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´╗┐Title: Rachel Gray
Author: Kavanagh, Julia
Language: English
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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 "Rachel Gray" ***

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Julia Kavanagh (1824-1877), Rachel Gray (1855), 1856 Tauchnitz edition


COLLECTION 
OF 
BRITISH AUTHORS. 

VOL. CCCXLIV. 



RACHEL GRAY BY JULIA KAVANAGH. 


IN ONE VOLUME. 



RACHEL GRAY. 


A TALE 


FOUNDED ON FACT. 


BY JULIA KAVANAGH, 


AUTHOR or "NATHALIE," "DAISY BURNS," "GRACE LEE." 



_COPYRIGHT EDITION_. 



LEIPZIG 


BERNHARD TAUCHNITZ 


1856



PREFACE. 



This tale, as the title-page implies, is founded on fact. Its truth is 
its chief merit, and the Author claims no other share in it, than that of 
telling it to the best of her power. 

I do not mean to aver that every word is a positive and literal truth, 
that every incident occurred exactly as I have related it, and in no 
other fashion, but this I mean to say: that I have invented nothing in 
the character of Rachel Gray, and that the sorrows of Richard Jones are 
not imaginary sorrows. 

My purpose in giving this story to the world is twofold. I have found 
that my first, and in many respects, most imperfect work "Madeleine," is 
nevertheless that which has won the greatest share of interest and 
sympathy; a result which I may, I think, safely attribute to its truth, 
and which has induced me to believe that on similar grounds, a similar 
distinction might be awarded to a heroine very different indeed from 
"Madeleine," but whose silent virtues have perhaps as strong a claim to 
admiration and respect. 

I had also another purpose, and though I mention it last, it was that 
which mainly contributed to make me intrude on public attention; I wished 
to show the intellectual, the educated, the fortunate, that minds which 
they are apt to slight as narrow, that lives which they pity as moving in 
the straight and gloomy paths of mediocrity, are often blessed and graced 
beyond the usual lot, with those lovely aspirations towards better deeds 
and immortal things, without which life is indeed a thing of little 
worth; cold and dull as a sunless day. 



JULIA KAVANAGH. 



LONDON: 
DECEMBER 1855. 



RACHEL GRAY. 



CHAPTER I. 

In one of the many little suburbs which cling to the outskirts of London, 
there is a silent and grass-grown street, of aspect both quiet and 
quaint. The houses are crazy, old, and brown, of every height and every 
size; many are untenanted. Some years ago one was internally destroyed by 
fire. It was not thought worth rebuilding. There it still stands, gaunt 
and grim, looking for all the world, with its broken or dust-stained 
windows, like a town deserted after a sacking. 

This street is surrounded by populous courts and alleys, by stirring 
thoroughfares, by roads full of activity and commerce; yet somehow or 
other, all the noise of life, all its tumult and agitation, here seem to 
die away to silence and repose. Few people, even amongst the poor, and 
the neighbourhood is a poor one, care to reside in it, while they can be 
lodged as cheaply close by, and more to their taste. Some think that the 
old square at the end, with its ancient, nodding trees, is close and 
gloomy; others have heard strange noises in the house that has suffered 
from fire, and are sure it is haunted; and some again do not like the 
silent, deserted look of the place, and cannot get over the fancy that, 
if no one will live in it, it must be because it is unlucky. And thus it 
daily decays more and more, and daily seems to grow more silent. 

The appearance of the few houses that are inhabited, says little in 
favour of this unfortunate street. In one, a tailor has taken up his 
abode. He is a pale, serious main, who stitches at his board in the 
window the whole day long, cheered by the occasional song of a thrush, 
hopping in its osier cage. This tailor, Samuel Hopkins yclept, lives by 
repairing damaged vestments. He once made a coat, and boasts--with how 
much truth is known to his own heart--that he likewise cut out, 
fashioned, and fitted, a pair of blue nether garments. Further on, at the 
corner of the square, stands the house of Mrs. Adams, an aged widow, who 
keeps a small school, which, on her brass board, she emphatically 
denominates her "Establishment for Young Ladies." This house has an 
unmistakeable air of literary dirt and neglect; the area and kitchen 
windows are encumbered with the accumulated mud and dust of years; from 
the attic casement, a little red-haired servant-girl is ever gaping; and 
on hot summer afternoons, when the parlour windows are left open, there 
is a glimpse within of a dingy school-mistress, and still more dingy 
school-room, with a few pupils who sit straggling on half-a-dozen 
benches, conning their lessons with a murmuring hum. 

With one exception, there is no other sign of commerce, trade, or 
profession in the whole street. For all an outward glance can reveal to 
the contrary, the people who live there are so very rich that they do not 
need to work at all, or so very genteel in their decay, that if they do 
work, they must do it in a hidden, skulking, invisible sort of fashion, 
or else be irretrievably disgraced. 

The solitary exception to which we have alluded, exists, or rather 
existed, for though we speak in the present, we write in the past by some 
years, in one of the smallest houses in the street. A little six-roomed 
house it was, exactly facing the dreary haunted mansion, and exposed to 
all the noises aforesaid. It was, also, to say the truth, an abode of 
poor and mean aspect. In the window hung a dress-maker's board, on which 
was modestly inscribed, with a list of prices, the name of--


"RACHEL GRAY." 


It was accompanied with patterns of yellow paper sleeves, trimmed in 
every colour, an old book of fashions, and beautiful and bright, as if 
reared in wood or meadow, a pot of yellow crocuses in bloom. They were 
closing now, for evening was drawing in, and they knew the hour. 

They had opened to light in the dingy parlour within, and which we will 
now enter. It was but a little room, and the soft gloom of a spring 
twilight half-filled it. The furniture though poor and old-fashioned, was 
scrupulously clean; and it shone again in the flickering fire-light. A 
few discoloured prints in black frames hung against the walls; two or 
three broken china ornaments adorned the wooden mantel-shelf, which was, 
moreover, decorated with a little dark-looking mirror in a rim of 
tarnished gold. 

By the fire an elderly woman of grave and stern aspect, but who had once 
been handsome, sat reading the newspaper. Near the window, two 
apprentices sewed, under the superintendence of Rachel Gray. 

A mild ray of light fell on her pale face, and bending figure. She sewed 
on, serious and still, and the calm gravity of her aspect harmonized with 
the silence of the little parlour which nothing disturbed, save the 
ticking of an old clock behind the door, the occasional rustling of Mrs. 
Gray's newspaper, and the continuous and monotonous sound of stitching. 

Rachel Gray looked upwards of thirty, yet she was younger by some years. 
She was a tall, thin, and awkward woman, sallow and faded before her 
time. She was not, and had never been handsome, yet there was a patient 
seriousness in the lines of her face, which, when it caught the eye, 
arrested it at once, and kept it long. Her brow, too, was broad and 
intellectual; her eyes were very fine, though their look was dreamy and 
abstracted; and her smile, when she did smile, which was not often, for 
she was slightly deaf and spoke little, was pleasant and very sweet. 

She sewed on, as we have said, abstracted and serious, when gradually, 
for even in observation she was slow, the yellow crocuses attracted her 
attention. She looked at them meditatively, and watched them closing, 
with the decline of day. And, at length, as if she had not understood, 
until then, what was going on before her, she smiled and admiringly 
exclaimed: 

"Now do look at the creatures, mother!" 

Mrs. Gray glanced up from her newspaper, and snuffed rather disdainfully. 

"Lawk, Rachel!" she said, "you don't mean to call crocuses creatures--do 
you? I'll tell you what though," she added, with a doleful shake of the 
head, "I don't know what Her Majesty thinks; but I say the country can't 
stand it much longer." 

Mrs. Gray had been cook in a Prime Minister's household, and this had 
naturally given her a political turn. 

"The Lord has taught you," murmured Rachel, bending over the flowers with 
something like awe, and a glow spread over her sallow cheek, and there 
came a light to her large brown eyes. 

Of the two apprentices--one a sickly, fretful girl of sixteen, heard her 
not; she went on sewing, and the very way in which she drew her needle 
and thread was peevish. The other apprentice did hear Rachel, and she 
looked, or rather stared at the dress-maker, with grim wonder. Indeed, 
there was something particularly grim about this young maiden--a drear 
stolidity that defies describing. A pure Saxon she was--no infusion of 
Celtic, or Danish, or Norman blood had lightened the native weight of her 
nature. She was young, yet she already went through life settling 
everything, and living in a moral tower of most uninviting aspect. But 
though Jane settled everything, she did not profess to understand 
everything; and when, as happened every now and then, Rachel Gray came 
out with such remarks as that above recorded, Jane felt confounded. "She 
couldn't make out Miss Gray--that she couldn't." 

"I'm so tired!" peevishly said Mary, the fretful apprentice. 

At once Rachel kindly observed: "Put by your work, dear." 

Again Mrs. Gray snuffed, and came out with: "Lawk! she's always grummy!" 

Mary tossed away her work, folded her arms, and looked sullen. Jane, the 
grim apprentice, drew her needle and thread twice as fast as before. 
"Thank Heaven!" she piously thought, "I am not lazy, nor sickly, and I 
can't see much difference between the two--that I can't." 

Rachel's work lay in her lap; she sat looking at the crocuses until she 
fell in a dream far in the past. 

For the past is our realm, free to all, high or low, who wish to dwell in 
it. There we may set aside the bitterness and the sorrow; there we may 
choose none but the pleasing visions, the bright, sunny spots where it is 
sweet to linger. The Future, fair as Hope may make it, is a dream, we 
claim it in vain. The Present, harsh or delightful, must be endured, yet 
it flies from us before we can say "it is gone." But the Past is ours to 
call up at our will. It is vivid and distinct as truth. In good and in 
evil, it is irrevocable; the divine seal has been set upon it for 
evermore. 

In that Book--a pure and holy one was hers--though not without a few 
dark and sad pages--Rachel Gray often read. And now, the sight of the 
yellow flower of spring took her back, to a happy day of her childhood. 
She saw herself a little girl again, with her younger sister Jane, and 
the whole school to which they belonged, out on a holiday treat in a 
green forest. Near that forest there was a breezy field; and there it was 
that Rachel first saw the yellow crocuses bloom. She remembered her joy, 
her delight at the wonderful beauty of the wild field flowers--how she 
and Jane heaped their laps with them, and sat down at the task; and how, 
when tired with the pleasant labour, they rested, as many yellow crocuses 
as before seemed to blow and play in the breeze around them. And she 
remembered, too, how, even then, there passed across her childish mind, a 
silent wonder at their multitude, an undefined awe for the power of the 
Almighty Hand who made the little flower, and bade it bloom in the green 
fields, beneath the misty azure of a soft spring sky. 

And then swiftly followed other thoughts. Where was little, blue-eyed 
Jane, her younger sister, her little companion and friend? Sleeping in a 
London grave, far from the pleasant and sunny spots where God's wild 
flowers bloom. And she--why she was pursuing her path in life, doing the 
will of God Almighty. 

"And what more," thought Rachel, "can I hope or wish for?" 

"Now, Rachel, what are you moping about?" tartly asked her mother, who, 
though half blind, had a quick eye for her daughter's meditative fits. 

Abruptly fled the dream. The childish memories, the holy remembrance of 
the dead, sank back once more to their quiet resting-place in Rachel's 
heart. Wakening up with a half-lightened start, she hastily resumed her 
work. 

"I don't think there ever was such a moper as that girl," grumbled Mrs. 
Gray to herself. 

Rachel smiled cheerfully in her mother's face. But as to telling her that 
she had been thinking of the yellow crocuses, and of the spots they grew 
in, and of the power and greatness and glory of Him who made them, Rachel 
did not dream of it.

"There's Mrs. Brown," said Mrs. Gray, as a dark figure passed by the 
window. "Go, and open the door, Mary."

Mary did not stir, upon which Jane officiously rose and said, "I'll go." 
She went, and in came, or rather bounced, Mrs. Brown--a short, stout, 
vulgar-looking woman of fifty or so, who at once filled the room with 
noise. 

"La, Mrs. Gray!" she began breathlessly, "What do you think? There's a 
new one. I have brought you the paper; third column, second page, first 
article, 'The Church in a Mess.' I thought you'd like to see it. Well, 
Rachel, and how are you getting on? Mrs. James's dress don't fit her a 
bit, and she says she'll not give you another stitch of work: but la! you 
don't care--do you? Why, Mary, how yellow you look to day. I declare 
you're as yellow as the crocuses in the pot. Ain't she now, Jane? And so 
you're not married yet--are you, my girl?" she added, giving the grim 
apprentice a slap on the back. 

Jane eyed her quietly. 

"You'd better not do that again, Mrs. Brown," she said, with some 
sternness, "and as to getting married: why, s'pose you mind your own 
business!" 

Mrs. Brown threw herself back in her chair, and laughed until the tears 
ran down her face. When she recovered, it was to address Mrs. Gray. 

"La, Mrs. Gray! can't you find it?" she said. "Why, I told you, third 
column, second page, 'The Church in a Mess.' You can't miss. I have put a 
pin in it." 

Spite of this kind attention, Mrs. Gray had not found "The Church in a 
Mess." 

"Lawk, Mrs. Brown!" she said, impatiently, "where's the use of always 
raking up them sort of things! The badness of others don't make us good--
does it? It's the taxes I think of, Mrs. Brown; it's the taxes! Now, 
Rachel, where are you going?" 

"I am going to take home this work, mother." 

Unable to find fault with this, Mrs. Gray muttered to herself. She was 
not ill-natured, but fault-finding was with her an inveterate habit. 

"La! what a muff that girl of yours is, Mrs. Gray!" charitably observed 
Mrs. Brown, as Rachel left the room. For Mrs. Brown being Mrs. Gray's 
cousin, landlady, and neighbour, took the right to say everything she 
pleased. 

"She ain't particlerly bright," confessed Mrs. Gray, poking the fire, 
"but you see, Mrs. Brown--" 

Rachel closed the door, and heard no more. Whilst Mrs. Brown was talking, 
she had been tying up her parcel. She now put on her bonnet and cloak, 
and went out. 

It is sweet, after the toil of a day, to breathe fresh air, London air 
even though it should be. It is sweet, after the long closeness of the 
work-room, to walk out and feel the sense of life and liberty. A new 
being seemed poured into Rachel as she went on. 

"I wonder people do not like this street," she thought, pausing at the 
corner to look back on the grey, quiet line she was leaving behind. "They 
call it dull, and to me it is so calm and sweet." And she sighed to enter 
the noisy and populous world before her. She hastily crossed it, and only 
slackened her pace when she reached the wide streets, the mansions with 
gardens to them, the broad and silent squares of the west end. She 
stopped before a handsome house, the abode of a rich lady who 
occasionally employed her, because she worked cheaper than a fashionable 
dress-maker, and as well.

Mrs. Moxton was engaged--visitors were with her--Rachel had to wait--
she sat in the hall. A stylish footman, who quickly detected that she was 
shy and nervous, entertained himself and his companions, by making her 
ten times more so. His speech was rude--his jests were insolent. Rachel 
was meek and humble; but she could feel insult; and that pride, from 
which few of God's creatures are free, rose within her, and flushed her 
pale cheek with involuntary displeasure. 

At length, the infliction ceased. Mrs. Moxton's visitors left; Rachel was 
called in. Her first impulse had been to complain of the footman to his 
mistress; but mercy checked the temptation; it might make him lose his 
place. Poor Rachel! she little knew that this footman could have been 
insolent to his mistress herself, had he so chosen. He was six foot 
three, and, in his livery of brown and gold, looked splendid. In short, 
he was invaluable, and not to be parted with on any account. 

Mrs. Moxton was habitually a well-bred, good-natured woman; but every 
rule has its exceptions. Rachel found her very much out of temper. To say 
the truth, one of her recent visitors was in the Mrs. Brown style; Mrs. 
Moxton had been provoked and irritated; and Rachel paid for it. 

"Now, Miss Gray," she said, with solemn indignation, "what do you mean by 
bringing back work in this style? That flounce is at least an inch too 
high! I thought you an intelligent young person--but really, really!" 

"It's very easily altered, ma'am," said Rachel, submissively. 

"You need, not trouble," gravely replied Mrs. Moxton. "I owe you 
something; you may call with your bill to-morrow." 

"I shall not be able to call to-morrow, ma'am; and if it were convenient 
now--" 

"It is not convenient now!" said Mrs. Morton, rather haughtily. She 
thought Rachel the most impertinent creature she had ever met with--that 
is to say, next to that irritating Mrs. Maberly, who had repeated that 
provoking thing about Mr. So-and-So. Rachel sighed and left the house 
like all shy persons, she was easily depressed. It was night when she 
stood once more in the street. Above the pale outline of the houses 
spread a sky of dark azure. A star shone in it, a little star; but it 
burned with as brilliant a light as any great planet. Rachel gazed at it 
earnestly, and the shadow passed away. "What matter!" she thought, "even 
though a man in livery made a jest of me--even though a lady in silk was 
scornful. What matter! God made that star for me as well as for her! 
Besides," she added, checking a thought which might, she feared, be too 
proud, "besides, who, and what am I, that I should repine?" 


CHAPTER II. 



Rachel went on; but she did not turn homewards. She left the broad and 
airy strait, where Mrs. Moxton lived. She entered a narrow one, long and 
gloomy. It led her into a large and gas-lit square. She crossed it 
without looking right or left: a thought led her on like a spell. Through 
streets and alleys, by lanes and courts--on she went, until at length 
she stood in the heart of a populous neighbourhood. Cars were dashing 
along the pavement; night vendors were screaming at their stalls, where 
tallow lights flared in the night wind. Drunken men were shouting in gin 
palaces, wretched looking women were coming out of pawnbroker's shops, 
and precocious London children were pouring into a theatre, where their 
morals were to be improved, and their understandings were to be 
enlightened, at the moderate rate of a penny a head. 

Rachel sighed at all she saw, and divined. "Poor things!" she thought, 
"if they only knew better." But this compassionate feeling did not 
exclude a sort of fear. Rachel kept as much as she could in the gloomy 
part of the streets; she shrank back nervously from every rude group, and 
thus she at length succeeded in attracting the very thing she most wished 
to shun--observation. Three or four women, rushing out of a 
public-house, caught sight of her timid figure. At once, one of  
them--she was more than half-intoxicated--burst out into a loud shouting  
laugh, and, seizing Rachel's arm, swung her round on the pavement. 

"Let me go!" said Rachel "I am in a hurry." She trembled from head to 
foot, and vainly tried to put on the appearance of a courage she felt 
not. 

"Give me something for drink then," insolently said the woman. 

Rachel's momentary fear was already over; she had said to herself, "and 
what can happen to me without God's will?" and the thought had nerved 
her. She looked very quietly at the woman's flushed and bloated face, and 
as quietly she said: 

"You have drunk too much already; let me go." 

"No I won't," hoarsely replied her tormentor, and she used language 
which, though it could not stain the pure heart of her who heard it, 
brought the blush of anger and shame to her cheek. 

"Let me go!" she said, trembling this time with indignation. 

"Yes--yes, let the young woman go, Molly," observed one of the woman's 
companions who had hitherto looked on apathetically. She officiously 
disengaged Rachel's arm, whispering as she did so: "You'd better cut  
now--I'll hold her. Molly's awful when she's got them fits on." 

Rachel hastened away, followed by the derisive shout of the whole group. 
She turned down the first street she found; it was dark and silent, yet 
Rachel did not stop until she reached the very end of it; then she paused 
to breathe a while, but when she put her hand in her pocket for her 
handkerchief it was gone; with it had disappeared her purse, and two or 
three shillings. Rachel saw and understood it all--the friend of Molly, 
her officious deliverer, was a pick-pocket She hung down her head and 
sighed, dismayed and astonished, not at her loss, but at the sin. "Ah! 
dear Lord Jesus," she thought, full of sorrow, "that thou shouldst thus 
be crucified anew by the sins of thy people!" Then followed the 
perplexing inward question: "Oh! why is there so much sin?" "God knows 
best," was the inward reply, and once more calm and serene, Rachel went 
on. At first, she hardly knew where she was. She stood in a dark 
thoroughfare where three streets met--three narrow streets that scarcely 
broke on the surrounding gloom. Hesitatingly she took the first. It 
happened to be that which she wanted. When Rachel recognized it, her pace 
slackened, her heart beat, her colour came and went, she was much moved; 
she prayed too--she prayed with her whole heart, but she walked very 
slowly. And thus she reached at length a lonely little street not quite 
so gloomy as that which she had been following. 

She paused at the corner shop for a moment. It was a second-hand 
ironmonger's; rusty iron locks, and rusty tongs and shovels, and rusty 
goods of every description kept grim company to tattered books and a few 
old pictures, that had contracted an iron look in their vicinity. A 
solitary gas-light lit the whole. 

Rachel stopped and looked at the books, and at the pictures, but only for 
a few seconds. If she stood there, it was not to gaze with passing 
curiosity on those objects; she knew them all of old, as she knew every 
stone of that street; it was to wait until the flush of her cheek had 
subsided, and the beating of her heart had grown still.

At length she went on. When she reached the middle of the street she 
paused; she stood near a dark house, shrouded within the gloom of its 
doorway. Opposite her, on the other side of the way, was a small shop lit 
from within. From where she stood, Rachel could see everything that 
passed in that abode. A carpenter lived there, for the place was full of 
rough deal boards standing erect against the wall, and the floor was 
heaped high with shavings. Presently a door within opened, the master of 
the shop entered it, and set himself to work by the light of a tallow 
candle. He was a tall, thin man, grey-headed and deeply wrinkled, but 
strong and hale for his years. As he bent over his work, the light of the 
candle vividly defined his angular figure and sharp features. Rachel 
looked at him; her eyes filled with tears, she brushed them away with her 
hand, for they prevented her from seeing, but they returned thicker and 
faster. 

"Oh! my father, my father!" she cried within her heart, "why must I stand 
here in darkness looking at you? why cannot I go in to you, like other 
daughters to their father? why do you not love your child?" Her heart 
seemed full to bursting; her eyes overflowed, her breathing was broken by 
sobs, and in the simple and pathetic words of Scripture, she turned away 
her head, and raised her voice and wept aloud. 

Rachel Gray was the daughter of the grey-headed carpenter by a first 
wife; soon after whose death he had married again. Mrs. Gray was his 
second wife, and the mother of his youngest daughter. She was kind in her 
way, but that was at the best a harsh one. Rachel was a timid, retiring 
child, plain, awkward, and sallow, with nothing to attract the eye, and 
little to please the fancy. Mrs. Gray did not use her ill certainly, but 
neither did she give her any great share in her affections. And why and 
how should a step-mother have loved Rachel when her own father did not? 
when almost from her birth she had been to him as though she did not 
exist--as a being who, uncalled for and unwanted, had come athwart his 
life. Never had he, to her knowledge, taken her in his arms, or on his 
knee; never had he kissed or caressed her; never addressed to her one 
word of fondness, or even of common kindness. Neither, it is true, had he 
ill-used nor ill-treated her; he felt no unnatural aversion for his own 
flesh and blood, nothing beyond a deep and incurable indifference. For 
her, his heart remained as a barren and arid soil on which the sweet 
flower of love could never bloom. 

There was but one being in this narrow circle who really and fondly loved 
Rachel Gray. And this was Jane, her little half-sister. Rachel was her 
elder by full five years. When she was told one morning that Jane was 
born, she heard the tidings with silent awe, then with eager curiosity, 
climbed up on a chair to peep at the rosy baby fast asleep in its cradle. 
From that day, she had but one thought--her little sister. How describe 
the mingled love and pride with which Rachel received the baby, when it 
was first confided to her care, and when to her was allotted the 
delightful task of dragging about in her arms a heavy, screaming child? 
And who but Rachel found Jane's first tooth? Who but Rachel taught Jane 
to speak; and taught her how to walk? Who else fulfilled for the helpless 
infant and wilful child every little office of kindness and of love, 
until at length there woke in her own childish heart some of that 
maternal fondness born with woman, the feeling whence her deepest woes 
and her highest happiness alike must spring. When her father was unkind, 
when her step-mother was hasty, Rachel turned for comfort to her little 
sister. In her childish caresses, and words, and ways, she found solace 
and consolation. She did not feel it hard that she was to be the slave of 
a spoiled child, to wash, comb, and dress her, to work for her, to carry 
her, to sing to her, to play with her, and that, not when she liked, but 
when it pleased Jane. All this Rachel did not mind--Jane loved her. She 
knew it, she was sure of it; and where there is love, there cannot be 
tyranny. 

Thus the two sisters grew up together, until one day, without previous 
warning, Thomas Gray went off to America, and coolly left his wife and 
children behind. Mrs. Gray was a good and an upright woman; she reared 
her husband's child like her own, and worked for both, without ever 
repining at the double burden. When her husband returned to England, 
after three years' absence, Mrs. Gray lost no time in compelling him to 
grant her a weekly allowance for herself, and for the support of her 
children. Thomas Gray could not resist the claim; but he gave what the 
law compelled him to give, and no more. He never returned to live with 
his wife; he never expressed a wish to see either of his daughters. 

He had been back some years when little Jane died at thirteen. She died, 
dreaming of heaven, with her hand in that of Rachel, and her head on 
Rachel's bosom. She died, blessing her eldest sister with her last 
breath, with love for her in the last look of her blue eyes, in the last 
smile of her wan lips. It was a happy death-bed--one to waken hope, not 
to call forth sorrow; and yet what became of the life of Rachel when Jane 
was gone? For a long time it was a dreary void--a melancholy succession 
of days and weeks and months, from which the happy light had fled--from 
which something sweet and delightful was gone for ever. 

For, though it may be sweeter to love, than to be loved, yet it is hard 
always to give and never to receive in return; and when Jane died, Rachel 
knew well enough that all the love she had to receive upon earth, had 
been given unto her. Like the lost Pleiad, "seen no more below," the 
bright star of her life had left the sky. It burned in other heavens with 
more celestial light; but it shone no longer over her path--to cheer, to 
comfort, to illume. 

Mrs. Gray was kind; after her own fashion, she loved Rachel. They had 
grieved and suffered together from the same sorrows, and kindred griefs 
can bind the farthest hearts; but beyond this there was no sympathy 
between them, and Mrs. Gray's affection, such as it was, was free from a 
particle of tenderness. 

She was not naturally a patient or an amiable woman; and she had endured 
great and unmerited wrongs from Rachel's father. Perhaps, she would have 
been more than human, had she not occasionally reminded her step-daughter 
of Mr. Thomas Gray's misdeeds, and now and then taunted her with a "He 
never cared about you--you know." 

Aye--Rachel knew it well enough. She knew that her own father loved her 
not--that though he had cared little for Jane, not being a 
tender-hearted man, still that he had cared somewhat, for that younger, 
and more favoured child. That before he left England, he would 
occasionally caress her; that when she died, tears had flowed down his 
stern cheek on hearing the tidings, and that the words had escaped him: 
"I am sorry I was not there."  

All this Rachel knew. Her mind was too noble, and too firm for jealousy; 
her heart too pious, and too humble for rebellious sorrow; but yet she 
found it hard to bear, and very hard to be reminded of it as a reproach 
and a shame. 

Was it not enough that she could not win the affection she most longed 
for? She was devoted to her step-mother; she had fondly loved her younger 
sister; but earlier born in her heart than these two loves, deeper, and 
more solemn, was the love Rachel felt for her father. That instinct of 
nature, which in him was silent, in her spoke strongly. That share of 
love which he denied her, she silently added to her own, and united both 
in one fervent offering. Harshness and indifference had no power to 
quench a feeling, to which love in kindness had not given birth. She 
loved because it was her destiny; because, as she once said herself, when 
speaking of another: "A daughter's heart clings to her father with 
boundless charity." 

Young as she was when Thomas Gray left his home, Rachel remembered him 
well. His looks, the very tones of his voice, were present to her. Not 
once, during the years of his absence, did the thought of her father 
cease to haunt her heart. When, from the bitter remarks of her 
step-mother, she learned that he had returned, and where he had taken up 
his home, she had no peace until she succeeded in obtaining a glimpse of 
him. Free, as are all the children of the poor, she made her way to the 
street where he lived, and many a day walked for weary miles in order to 
pass by her father's door. But she never crossed the threshold, never 
spoke to him, never let him know who she was, until the sad day when she 
bore to him the news of her sister's death. 

He received her with his usual coldness--in such emotion as he showed, 
she had no share, like strangers they had met--like strangers they 
parted. But, though his coldness and her own timidity prevented nearer 
advances, they did not prevent Rachel from often seeking the remote 
neighbourhood and gloomy street where her father dwelt. 

It was a pleasure, though a sad one, to look on his face, even if she 
went not near him; and thus it happened, that on this dark night she 
stood in the sheltering obscurity of the well-known doorway, gazing on 
the solitary old man, yet venturing not to cross the narrow street. 

The wind blew from the east. It was cold and piercing; yet it could not 
draw Rachel from her vigil of love. Still she looked and lingered, 
wishing she knew not what; and hoping against hope. Thus she stayed, 
until Thomas Gray left his work, put up the shutters, then left the house 
by the private door, and slowly walked away to the nearest public-house. 

The shop was once more a blank in the dark street. Rachel looked at the 
deserted dwelling and sighed; than softly and silently she stole away. 


CHAPTER III. 


It was late when Rachel reached home. She found her step-mother sitting 
up for her, rigid, amazed y indignant--so indignant, indeed, that though 
she rated Rachel soundly for her audacity in presuming to stay out so 
long without previous leave obtained, she quite forgot to inquire 
particularly why she had not come home earlier. A series of disasters had 
been occasioned by Rachel's absence; Jane and Mary had quarrelled, Mrs. 
Gray had been kept an hour waiting for her supper, the beer had naturally 
become flat and worthless, and whilst Mrs. Gray was sleeping--and how 
could she help sleeping, being quite faint and exhausted with her long 
vigil--puss had got up on the table and walked off with Rachel's polony. 

There was a touch of quiet humour in Rachel, and with a demure smile, she 
internally wondered why it was precisely her polony that had been 
selected by puss, but aloud she merely declared that she could make an 
excellent supper on bread and beer. Mrs. Gray, who held the reins of 
domestic management in their little household, assured her that she had 
better, for that nothing else was she going to get; she sat down 
heroically determined to eat the whole of her polony in order to punish 
and provoke her step-daughter; but somehow or other the half of that 
dainty had, before the end of the meal, found its way to the plate of 
Rachel, who, when she protested against this act of generosity, was 
imperiously ordered to hold her tongue, which order she did not dare to 
resist; for if Mrs. Gray's heart was mellow, her temper was sufficiently 
tart. 

The apprentices had long been gone to bed; as soon as supper was over, 
Mrs. Gray intimated to Rachel the propriety of following their example. 
Rachel ventured to demur meekly. 

"I cannot, mother--I have work to finish." 

"Then better have sat at home and finished it, than have gone gadding 
about, and nearly got a pitch plaster on your mouth," grumbled Mrs. Gray, 
who was a firm believer in pitch plasters, and abductions, and highway 
robberies, and all sorts of horrors. "Mind you don't set the house a 
fire," she added, retiring. 

"Why, mother," said Rachel, smiling, "you treat me like a child, and I am 
twenty-six." 

"What about that? when you aint got no more sense than a baby." 

Rachel did not venture to dispute, a proposition so distinctly stated. 
She remained up, and sat sewing until her work was finished; she then 
took out from some secret repository a small end of candle, lit it, and 
extinguished the long candle, by the light of which she had been working. 
From her pocket she took a small key; it opened a work-box, whence she 
drew a shirt collar finely stitched; she worked until her eyes ached, but 
she heeded it not, until they closed with involuntary fatigue and sleep, 
and still she would not obey the voice of wearied nature; still she 
stitched for love, like the poor shirtmaker for bread, until, without 
previous warning, her candle end suddenly flickered, then expired in its 
socket, and left her in darkness. Rachel gently opened the window, and 
partly unclosed the shutter; the moon was riding in the sky above the old 
house opposite, her pale clear light glided over its brown walls and the 
quiet street, down into the silent parlour of Rachel. She looked around 
her, moved at seeing familiar objects under an unusual aspect. In that 
old chair she had often seen her father sitting; on such a moonlight 
night as this she and Jane, then already declining, had sat by the 
window, and looking at that same sky, had talked with youthful fervour of 
high and eternal things. And now Jane knew the divine secrets she had 
guessed from afar, and Thomas Gray, alas! was a stranger and an alien in 
his own home. 

"Who knows," thought Rachel, "but he will return some day? Who knows--
who can tell? Life is long, and hope is eternal. Ah! if he should come 
back, even though he never looked at me, never spoke, blessed, thrice 
blessed, should ever be held the day..." And a prayer, not framed in 
words, but in deep feelings, gushed like a pure spring from her inmost 
heart. But, indeed, when did she not pray? When was God divided from her 
thoughts? When did prayer fail to prompt the kind, gentle words that fell 
from her lips, or to lend its daily grace to a pure and blameless life? 

For to her, God was not what He, alas! is to so many--an unapproachable 
Deity, to be worshipped from afar, in fear and trembling, or a cold 
though sublime abstraction. No, Jesus was her friend, her counsellor, her 
refuge. There was familiarity and tenderness in her very love for Him; 
and, though she scarcely knew it herself, a deep and fervent sense of His 
divine humanity of those thirty-three years of earthly life, of toil, of 
poverty, of trouble, and of sorrow which move our very hearts within us, 
when we look from Bethlehem to Calvary, from the lowly birth in the 
Manger to the bitter death on the Cross. 

We might ask, were these the pages to raise such questions, why Jesus is 
not more loved thus--as a friend, and a dear one, rather than as a cold 
master to be served, not for love, but for wages. But let it rest. 
Sufficient is it for us to know that not thus did Rachel Gray love him, 
but with a love in which humility and tenderness equally blended. 

After a meditative pause, she quietly put away her things by moonlight, 
then again closed shutter and window, and softly stole up to the room 
which she shared with her step-mother. She soon fell asleep, and dreamed 
that she had gone to live with her father, who said to her, "Rachel! 
Rachel!" So great was her joy, that she awoke. She found her mother 
already up, and scolding her because she still slept. 

"Mother," asked Rachel, leaning up on one elbow, "was it you who called 
me, Rachel?" 

"Why aint I been a calling of you this last hour?" asked Mrs. Gray, with 
much asperity. 

Rachel checked a sigh, and rose. 

"Get up Jane--get up Mary," said Mrs. Gray, rapping soundly at the room 
door of the two apprentices. 

"Let them sleep a little longer, poor young things!" implored Rachel. 

"No, that I won't," replied her mother, with great determination, "lazy 
little creatures." 

And to the imminent danger of her own knuckles, she rapped so 
pertinaciously, that Jane and Mary were unable to feign deafness, and 
replied, the former acting as spokeswoman, that Mrs. Gray needn't be 
making all that noise; for that they heard her, and were getting up. "I 
thought I'd make them hear me," muttered Mrs. Gray, hobbling down stairs. 

There are some beings who lead lives so calm, that when they look back on 
years, they seem to read the story of a few days; and of these was Rachel 
Gray. Life for her flowed dull, monotonous and quiet, as that of a nun in 
her cloister. The story of one day was the story of the next. A few 
hopes, a few precious thoughts she treasured in her heart; but outwardly, 
to work, to hear idle gossip, to eat, drink, and sleep, seemed her whole 
portion, her destiny from mom till night, from birth to the grave. 

Like every day passed this day. When it grew so dark that she could see 
no more to work, she put her task by, and softly stole away to a little 
back room up-stairs. 

It was a very small room indeed, with a bed, where the apprentices slept; 
a chest of drawers, a table, and two chairs:--many a closet is larger. 
Its solitary window looked out on the little yard below; low walls, 
against which grew Rachel's stocks and wall-flowers, enclosed it. From 
the next house, there came the laughter and the screams too of children, 
and of babies; and from a neighbouring forge, a loud, yet not unmusical 
clanking, with which now and then, blended the rude voices of the men, 
singing snatches of popular songs. Dimmed by the smoke of the forge, and 
by the natural heaviness of a London atmosphere, the sky enclosed all; 
yet, even through the smoke and haze, fair rosy gleams of the setting sun 
shone in that London sky, and at the zenith there was a space of pure, 
ethereal blue--soft, and very far from sinful and suffering earth, where 
glittered in calm beauty a large and tranquil star. 

Rachel sat by the window. She listened to earth: she looked at Heaven. 
Her heart swelled with love, and prayer, and tenderness, and hope. Tears 
of delight filled her eyes; she murmured to herself verses from psalms 
and hymns--all praising God, all telling the beauty of God's creation. 
Oh! pure and beautiful, indeed, would be the story of these your evening 
musings, if we could lightly tell it here, Rachel Gray. 

Reader, if to learn how a fine nature found its way through darkness and 
mist, and some suffering to the highest, and to the noblest of the 
delights God has granted to man--the religious and the intellectual; if, 
we say, to learn this give you pleasure, you may read on to the end of 
the chapter; if not, pass on at once to the next. These pages were not 
written for you; and even though you should read them, feel and 
understand them, you never will. 

Our life is twofold; and of that double life, which, like all of us, 
Rachel bore within her, we have as yet said but little. She was now 
twenty six; a tall, thin, sallow woman, ungraceful, of shy manners, and 
but little speech; but with a gentle face, a broad forehead, and large 
brown eyes. By trade, she was a dress-maker, of small pretensions; her 
father had forsaken her early, and her step-mother had reared her. This 
much, knew the little world in which moved Rachel Gray, this much, and no 
more. We may add, that this some little world had, in its wisdom, 
pronounced Rachel Gray a fool. 

Her education had been very limited. She knew how to read, and she could 
write, but neither easily nor well. For though God had bestowed on her 
the rare dower of a fine mind, He had not added to it the much more 
common, though infinitely less precious gift, of a quick intellect. She 
learned slowly, with great difficulty, with sore pain and trouble. Her 
teachers, one and all, pronounced her dull; her step-mother was ashamed 
of her, and to her dying day thought Rachel no better than a simpleton. 

Rachel felt this keenly; but she had no means of self-defence. She had 
not the least idea of how she could prove that she was not an idiot. One 
of the characteristics of childhood and of youth is a painful inability, 
an entire powerlessness of giving the form of speech to its deepest and 
most fervent feelings. The infirmity generally dies off with years, 
perhaps because also dies off the very strength of those feelings; but 
even as they were to last for ever with Rachel Gray, so was that 
infirmity destined to endure. Shy, sensitive, and nervous, she was a 
noble book, sealed to all save God. 

At eleven, her education, such as it was, was over. Rachel had to work, 
and earn her bread. She was reared religiously, and hers was a deeply 
religious nature. The misapplication of religion narrows still more a 
narrow mind, but religion, taken in its true sense, enlarges a noble one. 
Yet, not without strife, not without suffering, did Rachel make her way. 
She was ignorant, and she was alone; how to ask advice she knew not, for 
she could not explain herself. Sometimes she seemed to see the most 
sublime truths, plain as in a book; at other times, they floated dark and 
clouded before her gaze, or vanished in deep obscurity, and left her 
alone and cast down. She suffered years, until, from her very sufferings, 
perfect faith was born, and from faith unbounded trust in God, after 
which her soul sank in deep and blessed peace. 

And now, when rest was won, there came the want for more. Religion is 
love. Rachel wanted thought, that child of the intellect, as love is the 
child of the heart. She did not know herself what it was that she needed, 
until she discovered and possessed it--until she could read a book, a 
pamphlet, a scrap of verse, and brood over it, like a bird over her 
young, not for hours, not for days, but for weeks--blest in that silent 
meditation. Her mind was tenacious, but slow; she read few books--many 
would have disturbed her. Sweeter and pleasanter was it to Rachel to 
think over what she did read, and to treasure it up in the chambers of 
her mind, than to fill those chambers with heaps of knowledge. Indeed for 
knowledge Rachel cared comparatively little. In such as displayed more 
clearly the glories of God's creation she delighted; but man's learning, 
man's science, touched her not. To think was her delight; a silent, 
solitary, forbidden pleasure, in which Rachel had to indulge by stealth. 

For all this time, and especially since the death of her sister, she 
suffered keenly from home troubles, from a little domestic persecution, 
painful, pertinacious, and irritating. Mrs. Gray vaguely felt that her 
daughter was not like other girls, and not knowing that she was in 
reality very far beyond most; feeling, too, that Rachel was wholly unlike 
herself, and jealously resenting the fact, she teased her unceasingly, 
and did her best to interrupt the fits of meditation, which she did not 
scruple to term "moping." When her mind was most haunted with some fine 
thought, Rachel had to talk to her step-mother, to listen to her, and to 
take care not to reply at random; if she failed in any of these 
obligations, half-an-hour's lecture was the least penalty she could 
expect. Dear to her, for this reason; were the few moments of solitude 
she could call her own; dear to her was that little room, where she could 
steal away at twilight time and think in peace. 

Very unlike her age was this ignorant dress-maker of the nineteenth 
century. Ask the men and women of the day to read volumes; why, there is 
not a season but they go through the Herculean labour of swallowing down 
histories written faster than time flies, novels by the dozen, essays, 
philosophic and political, books of travels, of science, of statistics, 
besides the nameless host of reviews, magazines, and papers, daily and 
weekly. Ask them to study: why, what is there they do not know, from the 
most futile accomplishment to the most abstruse science? Ask them too, if 
you like, to enter life, to view it under all its aspects; why, they have 
travelled over the whole earth; and life, they know from the palace down 
to the hovel; but bid them think! They stare aghast: it is the task of 
Sisyphus--the labour of the Danaide; as fast as thought enters their 
mind, it goes out again. Bid them commune, one day with God and their own 
hearts--they reply dejectedly that they cannot; for their intellect is 
quick and brilliant, but their heart is cold. And thought springs from 
the heart, and in her heart had Rachel Gray found it. 

The task impossible to them was to her easy and delightful. Time wore on; 
deeper and more exquisite grew what Rachel quaintly termed to herself 
"the pleasure of thinking." And oh! she thought sometimes, and it was a 
thought that made her heart bum, "Oh! that people only knew the pleasures 
of thinking! Oh! if people would only think!" And mom, and noon, and 
night, and bending over her work, or sitting at peaceful twilight time in 
the little back room, Rachel thought; and thus she went on through life, 
between those two fair sisters, Thought and Prayer. 

Reader, hare you known many thinkers? We confess that we hare known many 
men and women of keen and great intellect, some geniuses; but only one 
real thinker have we known, only one who really thought for thought's own 
sake, and that one was Rachel Gray. 

And now, if she moves through this story, thinking much and doing little, 
you know why. 


CHAPTER IV. 


It was not merely in meditation that Rachel indulged, when she sought the 
little room. The divine did not banish the human from her heart; and she 
had friends known to her, but from that back room window; but friends 
they were, and, in their way and degree, valued ones. 

First, came the neighbour's children. By standing up on an old wooden 
stool in the yard, they could see Rachel at her window, and Rachel could 
see them. They were rude and ignorant little things enough, and no better 
than young heathens, in rearing and knowledge; yet they liked to hear 
Rachel singing hymns in a low voice; they even caught from her, scraps of 
verses, and sang them in their own fashion; and when Rachel, hearing 
this, took courage to open a conversation with them, and to teach them as 
well as she could, she found in them voluntary and sufficiently docile 
pupils. Their intercourse, indeed, was brief, and limited to a few 
minutes every evening that Rachel could steal up to her little room, but 
it was cordial and free. 

Another friend had Rachel, yet one with whom she had never exchanged 
speech. There existed, at the back of Mrs. Gray's house, a narrow court, 
inhabited by the poorest of the poor. Over part of this court, Mrs. 
Gray's back windows commanded a prospect which few would have envied--
yet it had proved to Rachel the source of the truest and the keenest 
pleasure. 

From her window, Rachel could look clearly into a low damp cellar 
opposite, the abode of a little old Frenchwoman, known in the 
neighbourhood, as "mad Madame Rose." 

Madame Rose, as she called herself, was a very diminutive old woman--
unusually so, but small and neat in all her limbs, and brisk in all her 
movements. She was dry, too, and brown as a nut, with a restless black 
eye, and a voluble tongue, which she exercised mostly in her native 
language--not that Madame Rose could not speak English; she had resided 
some fifteen years in London, and could say 'yes' and 'no,' &c., quite 
fluently. Her attire looked peculiar, in this country, but it suited her 
person excellently well; it was simply that of a French peasant woman, 
with high peaked cap, and kerchief, both snow-white, short petticoats, 
and full, a wide apron, clattering wooden shoes, and blue stockings. 

What wind of fortune had wafted this little French fairy to a London 
cellar, no one ever knew. How she lived, was almost as great a mystery. 
Every Sunday morning, she went forth, with a little wooden stool, and 
planted herself at the door of the French chapel; she asked for nothing, 
but took what she got. Indeed, her business there did not seem to be to 
get anything, but to make herself busy. She nodded to every one who went 
in or out, gave unasked-for information, and assisted the policeman in 
keeping the carriages in order. She darted in and out, among wheels and 
horses, with reckless audacity; and once, to the infinite wrath of a fat 
liveried coachman, she suspended herself--she was rather short--from 
the aristocratic reins he held, and boldly attempted to turn the heads of 
his horses. On week days, Madame Rose stayed in her cellar, and knitted. 
It was this part of her life which Rachel knew, and it was the most 
beautiful; for this little, laughed-at being, who lived upon charity, 
was, herself, all charity. Never yet, for five years that Rachel had 
watched her, had she seen Madame Rose alone in her cellar. Poor girls, 
who looked very much like out-casts, old and infirm women, helpless 
children, had successively shared the home, the bed, and the board of 
Madame Rose. For her seemed written the beautiful record, "I was naked, 
and ye clothed me; I was hungry, and ye fed me: athirst, and ye gave me 
drink; and I was houseless, and you sheltered me." 

With humble admiration, Rachel saw a charity and a zeal which she could 
not imitate. Like Mary, she could sit at the feet of the Lord, and, 
looking up, listen, rapt and absorbed, to the divine teaching. But the 
spirit of Martha, the holy zeal and fervour with which she bade welcome 
to her heavenly guest, were not among the gifts of Rachel Gray. 

Yet, the pleasure with which she stood in the corner of her own window, 
and looked down into the cellar of Madame Rose, was not merely that of 
religious sympathy or admiration. As she saw it this evening, with the 
tallow light that burned on the table, rendering every object minutely 
distinct, Rachel looked with another feeling than that of mere curiosity. 
She looked with the artistic pleasure we feel, when we gaze at some 
clearly-painted Dutch picture, with its back-ground of soft gloom, and 
its homely details of domestic life, relieved by touches of brilliant 
light. Poor as this cellar was, a painter would have liked it well; he 
would surely have delighted in the brown and crazy clothes-press, that 
stood at the further end, massive and dark; in the shining kitchen 
utensils that decorated the walls; in the low and many-coloured bed; in 
the clean, white deal table; in the smouldering fire, that burned in that 
dark grate, like a red eye; especially would he have gloried in the 
quaint little figure of Madame Rose. 

She had been cooking her supper, and she now sat down to it. In doing so, 
she caught sight of Rachel's figure; they were acquainted--that is to 
say, that Madame Rose, partly aware of the interest Rachel took in such 
glimpses as she obtained of her own daily life, favoured her with tokens 
of recognition, whenever she caught sight of her, far or near. She now 
nodded in friendly style, laughed, nodded again, and with that 
communicativeness which formed part of her character, successively 
displayed every article of her supper for Rachel's inspection. First, 
came a dishful of dark liquid--onion soup it was--then, a piece of 
bread, not a large one; then, two apples; then a small bit of cheese--
for Madame Rose was a Frenchwoman, and she would have her soup, and her 
dish, and her dessert, no matter on what scale, or in what quantity. 

But the supper of Madame Rose did not alone attract the attention and 
interest of Rachel. For a week, Madame Rose had enjoyed her cellar to 
herself; her last guest, an old and infirm woman, having died of old age; 
but, since the preceding day, she had taken in a new tenant--an idiot 
girl, of some fourteen years of age, whom her father, an inhabitant of 
the court, had lately forsaken, and whom society, that negligent
step-mother of man, had left to her fate. 

And now, with tears of emotion and admiration, Rachel watched the little 
Frenchwoman feeding her adopted child; having first girt its neck with a 
sort of bib, Madame Rose armed herself with a long handled spoon, and 
standing before it--she was too short to sit--she deliberately poured a 
sufficient quantity of onion soup down its throat a proceeding which the 
idiot girl received with great equanimity, opening and shutting her mouth 
with exemplary regularity and seriousness. 

So absorbed was Rachel in looking, that she never heard her mother 
calling her from below, until the summons was, for a third time, angrily 
repeated. 

"Now, Rachel, what are you doing up there?" asked the sharp voice of Mrs. 
Gray, at the foot of the staircase; "moping, as usual! Eh?" 

Rachel started, and hastened down stairs, a little frightened. She had 
remained unusually long. What if her mother should suspect that she had 
gone up for the purpose of thinking? Mrs. Gray had no such suspicion, 
fortunately; else she would surely have been horror-struck at the 
monstrous idea, that Rachel should actually dare to think! The very 
extravagance of the supposition saved Rachel It was not to be thought of. 

The candle was lit. Mrs. Brown and another neighbour had looked in. 
Gossip, flavoured with scandal--else it would have been tasteless--was 
at full galop. 

"La! but didn't I always say so?" exclaimed Mrs. Brown, who had always 
said everything. 

"I couldn't have believed it, that I couldn't!" emphatically observed 
Mrs. Gray. 

"La, bless you, Mrs. Gray! _I_ could," sneered the neighbour, who was 
sharp, thin, and irritable. 

Even Jane had her word: 

"I never liked her," she said, giving her thread a pull. 

"Who is she?" languidly asked Mary, letting her work fall on her knees. 

"Never you mind, Miss," tartly replied Jane. "Just stitch on, will you?" 

Mrs. Brown was again down on the unlucky absent one. 

"Serve her right," she said, benevolently. "Serve her right--the set up 
thing! Oh! there's Rachel. Lawk, Rachel! what a pity you ain't been here! 
You never heard such a story as has come out about that little staymaker, 
Humpy, as I call her. Why, she's been a making love to--la! but I can't 
help laughing, when I think of it; and it's all true, every word of it; 
aint it, Mrs. Smith?" 

Mrs. Smith loftily acquiesced. 

"Oh! my little room--my little room!" inwardly sighed Rachel, as she sat 
down to her work. She hoped that the story was, at least, finished and 
over; but if it was, the commentaries upon it were only beginning, and 
Heaven knows if they were not various and abundant. 

Rachel did her best to abstract herself; to hear, and not listen. She 
succeeded so well that she only awoke from her dream when Mrs. Brown said 
to her, 

"Well, Rachel, why don't you answer, then?" 

Rachel looked up, with a start, and said, in some trepidation, 

"Answer! I didn't hear you speak, ma'am." 

"Didn't you now!" knowingly observed Mrs. Brown, winking on the rest of 
the company. 

"No, ma'am, I did not, indeed," replied Rachel, earnestly. 

"Bless the girl!" said Mrs. Brown, laughing outright; "why, you must be 
growing deaf." 

"I hope not," said Rachel, rather perplexed; "yet, perhaps, I am; for, 
indeed, I did not hear you." 

"La, Miss Gray! don't you see they are making fun of you?" impatiently 
observed Jane. "Why, Mrs. Brown hadn't been a saying anything at all." 

Rachel reddened a little, and there was a general laugh at her expense. 
The joke was certainly a witty one. But Mrs. Gray, who was a touchy 
woman, was not pleased; and no sooner were her amiable visitors gone, 
than she gave it to Rachel for having been laughed at with insolent 
rudeness. 

"If you were not sich a simpleton," she said, in great anger, "people 
wouldn't dare to laugh at you. They wouldn't take the liberty. No one 
ever laughed at me, I can tell you. No Mrs. Brown; no, nor no Mrs. Smith 
either. But you! why, they'll do anythink to you." 

Rachel looked up from her work into her mother's face. It rose to her 
lips to say--"If you were not the first to make little of me, would 
others dare to do so?" but she remembered her lonely forsaken childhood, 
and bending once more over her task, Rachel held her peace. 

"I want to go to bed," peevishly said Mary. 

"Then go, my dear," gently replied Rachel. 

"You'll spoil that girl," observed Mrs. Gray, with great asperity. 

"She is not strong," answered Rachel; "and I promised Mr. Jones she 
should not work too much." 

"Not much fear of that," drily said Jane, as the door closed on Mary. 

No one answered. Rachel worked; her mother read the paper, and for an 
hour there was deep silence in the parlour. As the church clock struck 
nine, a knock came at the door. Jane opened, and a rosy, good-humoured 
looking man entered the parlour. He was about forty, short, stout, with 
rather a low forehead, and stubby hair; altogether, he seemed more 
remarkable for good-nature than for intelligence. At once his look went 
round the room. 

"Mary is gone to bed, Mr. Jones," said Rachel, smiling. 

"To bed!--She ain't ill, I hope. Miss Gray," he exclaimed, with an 
alarmed start. 

"Ill! Oh, no! but she felt tired. I am sorry you have had this long walk 
for nothing." 

"Never mind, Miss Gray," he replied cheerfully; then sitting down, and 
wiping his moist brow, he added--"the walk does me good, and then I hear 
how she is, and I've the pleasure of seeing you all. And so she's quite 
well, is she?" 

He leaned his two hands on the head of his walking-stick, and looking 
over it, smiled abstractedly at his own thoughts. Mrs. Gray roused him 
with the query--

"And what do you think of the state of the nation, Mr. Jones?" 

Mr. Jones scratched his head, looked puzzled, hemmed, and at length came 
out with the candid confession: 

"Mrs. Gray, I ain't no politician. For all I see, politics only brings a 
poor man into trouble. Look at the Chartists, and the tenth of April." 

"Ah! poor things!" sighed Rachel, "I saw them--they passed by here. How 
thin they were--bow careworn they looked!" 

Mrs. Gray remained aghast. Rachel had actually had the audacity to give 
an opinion on any subject unconnected with dress-making--and even on 
that, poor girl! she was not always allowed to speak.

"Now, Rachel," she said, rallying, "_will_ you hold _your_ tongue, and  
speak of what you know, and not meddle with politics." 

We must apologize for using italics, but without their aid we never could 
convey to our readers a proper idea of the awful solemnity with which 
Mrs. Gray emphasized her address. Rachel was rather bewildered, for she 
was not conscious of having said a word on politics, a subject she did 
not understand, and never spoke on; but she had long learned the virtue 
of silence. She did not reply. 

"As to the Chartists?" resumed Mrs. Gray, turning to Mr. Jones. 

"Law bless you, Mrs. Gray, _I_ ain't one of them!" he hastily replied. "I 
mind my own business--that's what I do, Mrs. Gray. The world must go 
round, you know." 

"So it must," gravely replied that lady. "You never said a truer thing, 
Mr. Jones." 

And very likely Mr. Jones had not. 

"And I must go off," said Mr. Jones, rising with a half-stifled sigh, 
"for it's getting late, and I have five miles to walk." 

And, undetained by Mrs. Gray's slow but honest entreaty to stay and share 
their supper, he left Rachel lighted him out. As she closed the parlour 
door, he looked at her, and lowering his voice, he said hesitatingly: 

"I couldn't see her, could I, Miss Gray?" 

Poor Rachel hesitated. She knew that she should get scolded if she 
complied; but then, he looked at her with such beseeching eyes--he 
wished for it so very much. Kindness prevailed over fear; she smiled, and 
treading softly, led the way up-stairs. As softly, he followed her up 
into the little back room. 

Mary was fast asleep; her hands were folded over the coverlet of 
variegated patchwork; her head lay slightly turned on the white pillow; 
the frill of her cap softly shaded her pale young face, now slightly 
flushed with sleep. Her father bent over her with fond love, keeping in 
his breath. Rachel held the light; she turned her head away, that Mr. 
Jones might not see her eyes, fest filling with tears. "Oh! my father--
my father!" she thought, "never have you looked so at your child--never 
--never!"

On tip-toe, Mr. Jones softly withdrew, and stole downstairs. 

"I'd have kissed her," he whispered to Rachel, as she opened the door for 
him, "but it might have woke her out of that sweet sleep." 

And away he went, happy to have purchased, by a ten miles walk after a 
day's hard labour, that look at his sleeping child. 

"Oh, Lord! how beautiful is the love Thou hast put into the hearts of Thy 
creature!" thought Rachel Gray; and though it had not been her lot to win 
that love, the thought was to her so sweet and so lovely, that she bore 
without repining her expected scolding. 

"Mrs. Gray had never heard of such a think--never." 


CHAPTER V. 


The rich man has his intellect, and its pleasures; he has his books, his 
studies, his club, his lectures, his excursions; he has foreign lands, 
splendid cities, galleries, museums, ancient and modern art: the poor man 
has his child, solitary delight of his hard tasked life, only solace of 
his cheerless home. 

Richard Jones had but that one child, that peevish, sickly, fretful 
little daughter; but she was his all. He was twenty-one, when the grocer 
in whose shop his youth had been spent, died a bankrupt, leaving one 
child, a daughter, a pale, sickly young creature of seventeen, called 
Mary Smith. 

Richard Jones had veneration large. He had always felt for this young 
lady an awful degree of respect, quite sufficient of itself to preclude 
love, had he been one to know this beautiful feeling by more than hearsay 
--which he was not. Indeed, he never could or would have thought of Mary 
Smith as something less than a goddess, if, calling at the house of the 
relative to whom she had gone, and finding her in tears, and, on her own 
confession, very miserable, he had not felt moved to offer himself, most 
hesitatingly, poor fellow I for her acceptance. 

Miss Smith gave gracious consent. They were married, and lived most 
happily together. Poor little Mary's temper was none of the best; but 
Richard made every allowance: "Breaking down of the business--other's 
death--having to marry a poor fellow like him, &c." In short, he proved 
the most humble and devoted of husbands, toiled like a slave to keep his 
wife like a lady, and never forgot the honour she had conferred upon him; 
to this honour Mrs. Jones added, after three years, by presenting him 
with a sickly baby, which, to its mother's name of Mary, proudly added 
that of its maternal grandfather Smith.

A year after the birth of Mary Smith Jones, her mother died. The 
affections of the widower centred on his child; he had, indeed, felt more 
awe than fondness for his deceased wife--love had never entered his 
heart; he earned it with him, pure and virgin, to the grave, impressed 
with but one image--that of his daughter. 

He reared his little baby alone and unaided. Once, indeed, a female 
friend insisted on relieving him from the charge; but, after surrendering 
his treasure to her, after spending a sleepless night, he rose with dawn, 
and went and fetched back his darling. During his wife's lifetime, he had 
been employed in a large warehouse; but now, in order to stay at home, he 
turned basket-maker. His child slept with him, cradled in his arms; he 
washed, combed, dressed it himself every morning, and made a woman of 
himself for its sake. 

When Mary grew up, her father sent her to school, and resumed his more 
profitable out-door occupation. After a long search and much 
deliberation, he prenticed her to Rachel Gray, and with her Mary Jones 
had now been about a month. 

"How pretty she looked, with that bit of pink on her cheek," soliloquized 
Richard Jones, as he turned round the corner of the street on his way 
homewards; and fairer than his mistress's image to the lover's fancy, 
young Mary's face rose before her father on the gloom of the dark night. 
A woman's voice suddenly broke on his reverie. She asked him to direct 
her to the nearest grocer's shop. 

"I am a stranger to the neighbourhood," he replied; "but I dare say this 
young person can tell us;" and he stopped a servant-girl, and put the 
question to her. 

"A grocer's shop?" she said, "there's not one within a mile. You must go 
down the next street on your right-hand, turn into the alley on your 
left, then turn to your right again, and if you take the fifth street 
after that, it will take you to the Teapot." 

She had to repeat her directions twice before the woman fairly understood 
them. 

"What a chance!" thought Jones, as he again walked on; "not a grocer's 
shop within a mile. Now, suppose I had, say fifty pounds, just to open 
with, how soon the thing would do for itself. And then I'd have my little 
Mary at home with me. Yes, that would be something!" 

Ay; the shop and Mary!--ambition and love! Ever since he had dealt tea 
and sugar in Mr. Smith's establishment, Richard Jones had been haunted 
with the desire to become a tradesman, and do the same thing in a shop of 
his own. But, conscious of the extravagant futility of this wish, Jones 
generally consoled himself with the thought that grocer's shops were as 
thick as mushrooms, and that, capital or no capital, there was no room 
for him. 

And now, as he walked home, dreaming, he could not but sigh, for there 
was room, he could not doubt it--but where was the capital? He was still 
vaguely wondering in his own mind, by what magical process the said 
capital could possibly be called up, when he reached his own home. There 
he found that, in his absence, a rudely scrawled scrap of paper had been 
slipped under his room door; it was to the following purport: 


"Dear J., 

"Als up; farm broke. Weral inn for it. 

"Yours, 

"S. S."


This laconic epistle signified that the firm in whose warehouse Richard 
Jones was employed, had stopped payment Rich men lost their thousands, 
and eat none the worse a dinner; Richard Jones lost his week's wages, his 
future employment, and remained stunned with the magnitude of the blow. 

His first thought flew to his child. 

"How shall I pay Miss Gray for my little Mary's keep?" he exclaimed, 
inwardly. 

He cast his look round the room to see what he could pledge or sell. 
Alas! there was little enough there. His next feeling was, 

"My darling must know nothing about it Thank God, she is not with me now! 
Thank God!" 

But, though this was some sort of comfort, the future still looked so 
dark and threatening, that Jones spent a sleepless night, tossing in his 
bed, and groaning so loudly, that his landlady forsook her couch to knock 
at his door, and inquire, to his infinite confusion, "if Mr. Jones felt 
poorly, and if there was anything she could do for him, and if he would 
like some hot ginger?" To which Mr. Jones replied, with thanks, "that he 
was quite well, much obliged to her all the same." 

After this significant hint, he managed to keep quiet. Towards morning, 
he fell asleep, and dreamed he had found a purse full of guineas, and 
that he was going to open a grocer's shop, to be called the Teapot.

Richard Jones was sober, intelligent enough for what he had to do, and 
not too intelligent--which is a great disadvantage; he bore an excellent 
character; and yet, somehow or other, when he searched for employment, 
there seemed to be no zoom for him; and had he been a philosopher, which, 
most fortunately for his peace of mind, he was not, he must inevitably 
hare come to the conclusion, that in this world he was not wanted. 

We are not called upon to enter into the history of his struggles. He 
maintained a sort of precarious existence, now working at this, now 
working at that; for he was a Jack of all trades, and could torn his hand 
to anything, but certain of no continual employment. How he went through 
it all, still paying Miss Gray, still keeping up a decent appearance, 
contracting no debts, the pitying eye which alone looks down on the 
bitter trials of the poor, also alone knows. 

The poorer a man gets, the more he thinks of wealth and money; the 
narrower does the world close around him, and all the wider grows the 
world of his charms. The shop, which had only been a dormant idea in 
Richard Jones's mind, now became a living phantom; day and night, mom and 
noon it haunted him. When he had nothing to do--and this was, 
unfortunately, too often the case--he sought intuitively the suburb 
where Rachel Gray dwelt; ascertained, over and over, that within the mile 
circuit of that central point there did not exist one grocer's shop, and 
finally determined that the precise spot where, for public benefit and 
its own advantage, a grocer's shop should be, was just round the corner 
of the street next to that of Rachel Gray, in a dirty little house, now 
occupied by a rag and bottle establishment, with very dirty windows, and 
a shabby black doll dangling like a thief, over the doorway; spite of 
which enticing prospect, the rag and bottle people seemed to thrive but 
indifferently, if one might judge from the sulky, ill-tempered looking 
woman, whom Jones always saw within, sorting old rags, and scowling at 
him whenever she caught him in the act of peering in. 

It was, therefore, with no surprise, though with some uneasiness, that 
coming one day to linger as usual near the place, James found the rag and 
bottle shop closed, the black doll gone, and the words, "To let" 
scrawled, in white chalk, on the shutters. Convinced that none but a 
grocer could take such a desirable shop, and desirous, at least, to know 
when this fated consummation was to take place, Jones took courage, and 
went on as far as Rachel Gray's. 

Jane, the grim apprentice, opened to him, 

"There's no one at home," she said. 

Mr. Jones pleaded fatigue, and asked to be permitted to rest awhile. She 
did not oppose his entrance, but grimly repelled all his attempts at 
opening a conversation. He entered on that most innocent topic, the 
weather, and praised it. 

"It has been raining," was Jane's emphatic reply. 

"Oh! has it? What's them bells ringing for, I wonder." 

"They aint a ringing; they're a tolling." 

Mr. Jones, rather confused at being thus put down by a girl of sixteen, 
coughed behind his hand, and looked round the room for a subject. He 
found none, save a general inquiry after the health of Mary, Mrs. Gray, 
and Miss Gray. 

"They're all well enough," disdainfully replied Jane. 

"Oh, are they! I see the rag and bottle shop is shut," he added, plunging 
desperately into the subject. 

"S'pose it is!" answered Jane, eyeing him rather defiantly; for the rag 
and bottle woman was her own aunt; and she thought the observation of a 
personal nature. 

Though much taken aback, Jones, spurred on by the irresistible wish to 
know, ventured on another question. 

"You don't know who is going to take it next, do you?" 

"Oh! you want to take it, do you?" said Jane. 

"I--I!" exclaimed Jones, flurried and disconcerted. "La, bless the young 
woman! I aint in the rag and bottle line, am I?" 

He thought by this artful turn to throw his young enemy off the scent; 
but her rejoinder showed him the futility of the attempt. 

"I didn't say you was, did I?" she replied, drily. 

Jones rose precipitately, and hastily desiring his love to Mrs. Gray, and 
his respects to Mary, he retreated most shamefully beaten. He did not 
breathe freely until he reached the end of the street, and once more 
found himself opposite the closed rag shop. How he had come there, he did 
not rightly know; for it was not his way home. But, being there, he 
naturally gave it another look. He stood gazing at it very attentively, 
and absorbed in thought, when he was roused by a sharp voice, which said, 

"P'raps you'd like to see it within." 

The voice came from above. Richard looked up. The first floor window was 
open, and a man's head was just thrust out of it. It looked down at him 
in the street, and apparently belonged to a little old man, to whom one 
very sharp eye--the other was closed up quite tight--and a long nose, 
which went all of one side, gave a rather remarkable appearance. 

"Thank you, sir," replied Jones, rather confused. "I--I--" 

Before he had got to the end of his speech, the old man vanished from the 
window, and suddenly appeared at the private door, beckoning him in. 

"Come in," he said, coaxingly, like an ogre luring in an unwary little 
boy. 

And, drawn as by a magnet, Jones entered. 

"Dark passage, but good shop," said the old man. He opened a door, and in 
the shop suddenly stepped Richard Jones. It was small, dirty, and smelt 
of grease and old rags. 

"Good shop," said the old man, rubbing his hands, in seeming great glee; 
"neat back parlour;" he opened a glass door, and Jones saw a triangular 
room, not much larger than a good-sized cupboard. 

"More rooms up stairs," briskly said the old man; he nimbly darted up an 
old wooden staircase, that creaked under him. Mechanically Jones 
followed. There were two rooms on the upper and only storey; one of 
moderate size; the other, a little larger than the back parlour. 

"Good shop," began the old man, reckoning on his fingers, "ca-pital shop; 
neat parlour--very neat; upper storey, two rooms; one splendid; cosy 
bed-room; rent of the whole, only thirty-five pounds a-year--only 
thirty-five pounds a-year!" 

The repetition was uttered impressively. 

"Thank you--much obliged to you," began Richard Jones, wishing himself 
fairly out of the place; "but you see--" 

"Stop a bit," eagerly interrupted the old man, catching Jones by the 
button-hole, and fixing him, as the 'Ancient Mariner' fixed the wedding 
guest, with his glittering eye, "stop a bit; you take the house, keep 
shop, parlour, and bedroom for yourself and family--plenty; furnish 
front room, let it at five shillings a week; fifty-two weeks in the year; 
five times two, ten--put down naught, carry one; five times five, 
twenty-five, and one, twenty-six--two hundred and sixty shillings, make 
thirteen pounds; take thirteen pounds from thirty-five--" 

"Law bless you, Sir!" hastily interrupted Jones, getting frightened at 
the practical landlord view the one-eyed and one-sided-nosed old man 
seemed to take of his presence in the house. "Law bless you, Sir! it's 
all a mistake, every bit of it."

"A mistake!" interrupted the old man, his voice rising shrill and loud. 
"A mistake! five times two, ten--" 

"Well, but I couldn't think of such a thing," in his turn interrupted 
Jones. "I--" 

"Well then, say thirty pound," pertinaciously resumed the old man; "take 
thirteen from thirty--" 

"No, I can't then--really, I can't," desperately exclaimed Jones; "on my 
word I can't." 

"Well, then, say twenty-five; from twenty-five take thirteen--" 

"I tell you, 'tain't a bit of use your taking away thirteen at that 
rate," interrupted Jones, rather warmly. 

"And what will you give, then?" asked the old man, with a sort of 
screech. 

"Why, nothing!" impatiently replied Jones. "Who ever said I would give 
anything? I didn't--did I?" 

"Then what do you come creeping and crawling about the place for?" hissed 
the old man, his one eye glaring defiance on Jones, "eh! just tell me 
that. Why, these two months you've crept and crept, and crawled, and 
crawled, till you've sent the rag and bottle people away. 'Sir,' says the 
rag and bottle woman to me, 'Sir, we can't stand it no longer. There's a 
man, Sir, and he prowls around the shop. Sir, and he jist looks in, and 
darts off agin, and he won't buy no rags, and he hasn't no bottles to 
sell; and my husband and me, Sir, we can't stand it--that's all.' Well, 
and what have you got to say to that, I should like to know?" 

Jones, who never had a very ready tongue, and who was quite confounded at 
the accusation, remained dumb. 

"I'll tell you what you are, though," cried the old man, his voice rising 
still higher with his wrath; "you are a crawling, creeping, low, sneaking 
fellow!" 

"Now, old gentleman!" cried Jones, in his turn losing his temper, "just 
keep a civil tongue in your head, will you? I didn't ask to come in, did 
I? And if I did look at the shop at times, why, a cat can look at a king, 
can't he?" 

Spite of the excellence of the reasoning thus popularly expressed, Jones 
perceived that the old man was going to renew his offensive language, and 
as he wisely mistrusted his own somewhat hasty temper, he prudently 
walked downstairs, and let himself out. But then he reached the street, 
the old man's head was already out of the first-floor window, and Jones 
turned the corner pursued with the words "creeping," "crawling." He lost 
the rest. 


CHAPTER VI. 


Rachel sat alone, working and thinking. The dull street was silent; the 
sound and stir of morning, alive elsewhere, reached it not; but the sky 
was clear and blue, and on that azure field mounted the burning sun, 
gladdening the very house-roofs as he went, and filling with light and 
life the quiet parlour of Rachel Gray. 

Mrs. Gray was an ignorant woman, and she spoke bad English; but her 
literary tastes were superior to her education and to her language. Her 
few books were good--they were priceless; they included the poetical 
works of one John Milton. Whether Mrs. Gray understood him in all his 
beauty and sublimity, we know not, but at least, she read him, seriously, 
conscientiously--and many a fine lady cannot say as much. Rachel, too, 
read Milton, and loved him as a fine mind must ever love that noble poet. 
That very morning, she had been reading one of his sonnets, too little 
read, and too little known. We will give it here, for though, of course, 
all our readers are already acquainted with it, it might not be present 
to their memory. 


   "When I consider how my light is spent 
   Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide, 
   And that one talent which is death to hide, 
   Lodg'd with me useless, though my soul more bent, 
   To serve therewith my Maker, and present 
   My true account, lest he, returning, chide; 
   'Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?'
   I fondly ask: but Patience to prevent 
   That murmur, soon replies, 'God doth not need 
   Either man's work, or his own gifts; who best 
   Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best; his state 
   Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed,
   And post o'er land and ocean without rest; 
   They also serve, who only stand and wait'" 

  
   "'They also serve who only stand and wait,'"


thought Rachel, brooding over the words, as was her wont, "and that is my 
case. Oh, God! I stand and wait, and alas! I do nothing, for I am blind, 
and ignorant, and helpless, and what am I that the Lord should make use 
of me; yet, in His goodness, my simple readiness to do His will, He takes 
as good service. Oh, Rachel! happy Rachel! to serve so kind a master." 

Her work dropt on her lap; and so deep was her abstraction, that she 
heard not the door opening, and saw not Richard Jones, until he stood 
within a few paces of her chair. She gave a slight start on perceiving 
him; and her nervous emotion was not lessened, by remarking that he was 
rather pale and looked excited. 

"Mary is very well," she said, hastily, and half smiling at the supposed 
alarm which had, she thought, brought him so suddenly in upon her. 

"Of course she is--of course she is," he replied, nodding; then, drawing 
a chair near to Rachel's, he sat down upon it, and, bending forward, with 
his two hands resting on his knees, he said, in a deep, impressive 
whisper, 

"Miss Gray, may I speak to you? I want you to advise me," he added, after 
a slight pause. 

"To advise you, Mr. Jones!" echoed Rachel, looking up at him, with mild 
astonishment. 

"Yes, Miss Gray," he firmly replied; and, slightly clearing his throat, 
he thus began: "Miss Gray, I aint a known you very long; but there aint 
another in this wide world whom I respect as I do you. And I think I have 
proved it; for haven't I given you my little Mary? I couldn't do more, 
Miss Gray," he added, with energetic earnestness. "Yes, Miss Gray, I do 
respect you; and that is why I want you to advise me. Now, this is the 
whole story:--

"From a boy, Miss Gray, I have wished to be in business. I was in 
business at Mr. Smith's, Mr. Smith was the grandfather of my little Mary, 
but not on my account; and that's not quite the same thing, you see. And 
I have wished to be in the grocery line, in particular, because of 
understanding it so much better, from having been brought up to it, like. 
Now, Miss Gray, here's the plain truth of the case. Some time ago, I 
found out, by chance, that there was not--actually, that there was not a 
grocer's shop in this immediate vicinity!" Here Mr. Jones held up his 
forefinger by way of note of admiration. "Well, Miss Gray," he resumed 
impressively, "that thought haunted me. Why here was the very place for 
me! A grocer was wanted. I found out, too, that the rag and bottle shop 
round the corner was just the place for me, and the people left, too; but 
bless you. Miss Gray, 't was all not a bit of use--for why--I hadn't 
got no capital! Well, Miss Gray, to make a long story short, a cousin of 
mine has just died, and left me all she had, poor thing, and that was 
sixty pound. Now, Miss Gray, what I want to know is this:--do you think 
that as a father--that is, the father of my little Mary--I'm justified 
in risking that money by setting up a shop, or that it's my duty to keep 
it all up for the child?" 

He looked earnestly in Rachel's face. Ay, the child; it was still the 
child, and always the child. His own was not his own--it was but a trust 
held for his little Mary. 

"Truly, Mr. Jones," said Rachel, smiling, "you can do what you like with 
your own." 

"No, indeed, Miss Gray," he rejoined, a little warmly, "I must think of 
my little Mary first; and you see the whole question is, which is best 
for her. Why, I aint slep these three nights with thinking on it, and so, 
at last, I thought I'd come to you." 

Who had ever asked Rachel for advice! Rachel the simpleton--Rachel the 
slighted and laughed-at dressmaker? Little did Mr. Jones know how nervous 
he made the poor girl; besides, she felt quite bewildered at the strange 
views he took of the case he submitted to her. At length she gathered 
courage, and looking earnestly in his face with her mild brown eyes, she 
spoke. 

"Mr. Jones," she said, "it seems to me that as the money is yours, and 
that as your intentions are to turn it to a good account, you have a 
right to do with it as you please. I think, too, that you are likely to 
do very well as a grocer, for we really do want one about here. But I 
only tell you what I think. I do not advise. I really cannot. If you want 
advice, Mr. Jones, why, ask it of one who cannot mistake, for He is not 
liable to human error--ask it of God Almighty." 

Richard Jones scratched his head, then hung it down ashamed. If he had 
dared, he would have asked of Rachel how he was to ask of God to advise 
him, and, especially, how he was to get the answer! Poor fellow! he had 
an excellent hearty some faith, much charity, but the world's net was 
around him. His life was not like that of Rachel Gray--a heaven upon 
earth. And Rachel, who laboured under the disadvantages of a narrow 
education, and a narrow life, who had not enough knowledge and enough 
experience of human nature to understand clearly that there were states 
of mind worlds lower than her own, did not suspect that she had given 
Richard Jones the worst of all advice--that which the receiver cannot 
follow. 

Alas! who talks of God now! who listens like Adam in Eden to the voice of 
the Lord, and treasures in his or her own heart that source of all 
knowledge? And we complain that God goes away from us; that His face is 
dark, and behind the cloud; that in the days of adversity we find him 
not. 

Jones rose confused, muttered thanks, then hastily changed the subject by 
asking to see his daughter. Even as he spoke, the door opened, and Mary 
entered. 

She did not show much pleasure or surprise on seeing her father; it was 
not that she did not love him, but she was a spoiled child, too much 
accustomed to his fondness and devotion to set great value on either. She 
complained of the heat, then of the cold, sat down, got up again, and 
gave herself all the airs of a precocious woman. Her father, leaning on 
his stick, looked at her with admixing fondness, and occasionally nodded 
and winked at Rachel, as if inviting her to admire likewise. At length, 
with a half stifled sigh--for he never parted from his darling without 
regret--he again said he must go. 

"And so, good-bye, my little Mary," he added, kissing her, but the 
peevish child half-turned her head away, and said his beard hurt her. 
"You hear her, Miss Gray," he exclaimed, chuckling, "does not care a pin 
for her old father, not a pin," and chucking Mary's chin, he looked down 
at her fondly. 

"Dear me, father, how can you?" asked the young lady, rather pettishly. 
Upon which, Mr. Jones shook his head, looked delighted, and at length 
managed to tear himself away. 

"And is it thus, indeed, that fathers love their daughters?" thought 
Rachel Gray, as she sat alone in the little back room on the evening of 
that day. "And is it thus, indeed! Oh! my father--my father!" 

She laid down the book she had been attempting to read. She leaned her 
brow upon her hand; she envied none, but her heart felt full to 
over-flowing. Since the night when she had gone to look at her father, as 
we have recorded, Rachel had not felt strong or courageous enough to 
attempt more. Her nature was timid, sensitive and shrinking to a fault, 
and circumstances had made it doubly so, yet the repeated sight of 
Richard Jones's devoted love for his child, inspired her with involuntary 
hope. She had grown up in the belief of her father's rooted indifference; 
might she not have been mistaken? was it not possible that his daughter 
could become dear to Thomas Gray, as other daughters were dear to their 
father? Rachel had always cherished the secret hope that it would one day 
be so, but because that hope was so precious, she had deferred risking 
it, lest it should perish irretrievably. She now felt inwardly urged to 
make the attempt. Why should she not, like the prodigal son, rise and go 
to her father? "I will," she thought, clasping her hands, her cheeks 
flushing, her eyes kindling, "yes, I will go to-morrow, and my father 
shall know his daughter; and, perhaps, who knows, perhaps God Almighty 
will bless me." 

Here the sound of a sudden tumult in the little court close by, broke on 
the dream of Rachel Gray. She looked, and she saw and heard Madame Rose 
gesticulating and scolding, to the infinite amusement of a crowd of boys, 
who where teazing the idiot girl. The wrath of Madame Rose was something 
to see. Having first placed her protege behind herself for safety--as 
if her own little body could do much for the protection of another twice 
its size--Madame Rose next put herself in an attitude, then expostulated 
with, then scolded, then denounced the persecutors of the helpless idiot; 
after which washing her hands of them, she walked backwards to her 
cellar, scorning to turn her back to the foe. But the enemy, nothing 
daunted, showed evident intentions of besieging her in her stronghold, 
and though Madame Rose made her appearance at the window, armed with a 
broomstick, she failed to strike that terror into the hearts of her 
assailants, which the formidable nature of the weapon warranted. 
Fortunately, however, for the peace of the little French lady, that 
valiant knight-errant of modern times, the policeman, having made his 
appearance at the entrance of the court, a scutter, then a rushing 
flight, were the immediate consequence. Ignorant of this fact, Madame 
Rose ascribed the result entirely to her own prowess, and in all peace of 
mind proceeded to cook her supper. Then followed the little domestic 
scenes which Rachel liked to watch. 

As Rachel looked, she took a bold resolve, and this was to pay Madame 
Rose a visit. They had met, the day before, in the street; and Madame 
Rose had addressed a long and voluble discourse to Rachel, in French, 
concluding with an invitation to visit her, which Rachel had understood, 
and smilingly accepted. 

And now was the favourable moment to carry this project into effect. From 
the little room, Rachel heard Mrs. Brown's loud voice below in the 
parlour. Mrs. Gray was fully engaged, and not likely to mind her 
daughter's absence. Unheeded, Rachel slipped out. 

A few minutes brought her round to the little courts and to the house 
inhabited by Madame Rose. It was dingy, noisy, and dirty; and as she 
groped and stumbled down the dark staircase, Rachel half repented haying 
come. The voice of Madame Rose directed her to the right door--for there 
were several. She knocked gently; a shrill "entrez," which she rightly 
interpreted as a summons to enter, was uttered from within; and pushing 
the door open, Rachel found herself in the abode and presence of Madame 
Rose. 

She was received with a storm of enthusiasm, that rather bewildered than 
pleased her. Madame Rose welcomed her in a torrent of speech, with a 
multiplicity of nods, and winks, and shrugs, and exclamations, so novel 
in the experience of Rachel Gray, that she began to wonder how much truth 
there might be in the epithet occasionally bestowed on Madame Rose. For, 
first of all, she insisted on cooking a dish of onion soup for her 
expressly, a kindness which Rachel had all the trouble in the world to 
resist; and next, this point settled, she was loud and unceasing in the 
praise of the poor idiot girl, who sat mowing in her chair. 

Rachel went and sat near her, and spoke to her, but she only got an 
unintelligible murmur for a reply. Madame Rose shook her head, as much as 
to say that the attainments of Mimi--so she called her--did not include 
speech. But Mimi was very good--very good indeed, only she could not 
talk, which was "bien dommage," added Madame Rose, as, had she only been 
able to speak, Mimi would certainly have done it charmingly. 

"You should see her eating onion soup," enthusiastically added Madame 
Rose. "It is beautiful!" Then, seeing that Rachel was engaged in 
scrutinizing, with a pitying glance, the ragged attire of her protege, 
Madame Rose jealously informed her that, as yet, the toilette of Mimi had 
been a little neglected, certainly; but that, "with time, and the help of 
God," added Madame Rose, "Mimi should want for nothing." 

"I have an old dress at home, that will just do for her," timidly said 
Rachel "Shall I bring it to-morrow night?" 

Madame Rose coughed dubiously--she had not understood; but a perfect 
knowledge of the English tongue, in all its most delicate intricacies, 
was one of her vanities. So, bending her head of one side, and patting 
her ear, as if to imply that there lay the fault, she evidently requested 
Rachel to repeat She did so; and this time, Madame Rose caught enough of 
her meaning to misunderstand her. 

"I understand--I understand!" she exclaimed, triumphantly; and settling 
Mimi in her chair, she told her to be good, for that she was only going 
to fetch her an elegant dress presented to her by the goodness of 
Mademoiselle, and that she would be back in an incredibly short space of 
time; after which exhortation, Madame Rose prepared to accompany Rachel.

In vain, poor Rachel, alarmed at the prospect of her mother's anger, 
endeavoured to explain that she would bring the dress. Madame Rose, still 
triumphantly asserting that she understood, insisted on going out with 
her guest, and actually walked with her to her very door. In great 
trepidation, Rachel opened it, and unconscious of peril or offence, 
Madame Rose entered, clattering along the passage in her wooden shoes; 
but Mrs. Brown's voice was just then at the loudest; the noise was not 
heeded. 

Rachel took her up-stairs to the little back-room, and left her there, 
whilst she looked in the room which she shared with her mother, for the 
dress she wished to give Mimi; she soon came back with it, tied in a 
parcel, and now devoutly wished that she could see Madame Rose safe out 
of the place. But Madame Rose was in no mood to go. She had recognized 
the room and window where she so often saw Rachel; and she intimated as 
much, by a lively pantomime; first taking up a book, she held it before 
her, pretending to read; then she pointed to her forehead, to imply that 
Rachel was a thinker; and finally, to the horror and dismay of Rachel, 
Madame Rose shut her eyes, opened her mouth, and warbled a sufficiently 
correct imitation of the old hundredth. 

The window was open; and even Mrs. Brown's voice could not drown these 
strange tones. They reached the ear of Mrs. Gray; and before Rachel had 
fairly recovered from the surprise and alarm into which the musical 
outburst of Madame Rose had thrown her, her step-mother appeared at the 
door of the little back room, and, in stern and indignant accents, asked 
to know the meaning of what she heard and saw. But, before Rachel could 
reply, the French costume of Madame Rose had betrayed her. 

Mrs. Gray was of Scotch descent, and she had some of the old puritan 
spirit, to which, in the course of a long life, she had added a plenteous 
store of stubborn English prejudices. 

Madame Rose was "an idolatrous furriner!" "a French beggar!" too; and 
that she should have darkened her doors!--that she should be familiarly 
sitting under her roof--chattering and singing in a back room, with her 
daughter, was an intolerable insult, a wrong not to be borne. 

"I am amazed at you, Rachel!" she said, her voice quivering with 
indignation. "I am amazed at you. How dare you do sich a thing!" 

The tones and the attitude of Mrs. Gray were not to be misunderstood; nor 
was little Madame Rose so dull as to mistake them. She saw that her 
presence was not welcome, and, with great dignity, rose and took her 
leave. Crimson with pain and shame, Rachel followed her out. She gave 
Madame Rose an humble and imploring glance, as they parted at the door, 
as much, as to say, "You know I could not help it." But the appeal was 
not needed. To her surprise, Madame Rose remained very good-humoured. She 
even laughed and shrugged her shoulders, French fashion, and indulged in 
a variety of pantomimic signs, closing with one more intelligible than 
the rest: a significant tap of her forefinger on her brown forehead, and 
by which Madame Rose plainly intimated it to be her firm conviction that 
the intellect of Mrs. Gray was unfortunately deranged. Thus they parted. 

Violent were the reproaches with which Mrs. Gray greeted her daughter's 
reappearance. She exacted a strict and rigid account of the rise and 
progress of Rachel's acquaintance with that "mad French beggar;" was 
horror-struck on learning that the back-room window had been made the 
medium; and not satisfied with prohibiting future intercourse, took the 
most effective means to prevent it, by locking up the guilty zoom, and 
putting the key in her pocket. 

To all this Rachel submitted; though, when she saw the door of her 
much-loved retreat closing on her, her heart ached. But when, in the 
height of her anger, Mrs. Gray railed at the poor little Frenchwoman, as 
little better than an idolater or an infidel, Rachel felt as if it 
touched her honour, not to suffer this slur on her humble friend. 

"Mother," she said, with some firmness, "you cannot tell what she is; for 
you know nothing of her, save by idle reports. I have watched her life 
day after day, and I have seen that it is holy. And, mother," added 
Rachel, slightly colouring, from the fervour with which she felt and 
spoke, "you know it as I do: all holiness comes from God." 

Unable to contradict, Mrs. Gray sniffed indignantly.


CHAPTER VII. 


Hard indeed were the days that followed for Rachel Gray. The old quarrel 
had began anew. Why was she not like every one? Why did she pick up 
strange acquaintances?--above all, why did she mope, and want to be in 
the little back room? It was strange, and Mrs. Gray was not sure that it 
was not wicked. If so, it was a wickedness of which she effectually 
deprived Rachel, by keeping the back room locked, and the key in her 
pocket. 

But, hard as this was, it was not all. Amongst Rachel's few treasures, 
were little pamphlets, tracts, old sermons, scraps of all sorts, a little 
hoard collected for years, but to their owner priceless. She did not read 
them daily; she had not time; but when she was alone, she took them oat, 
now and then, to look at and think over. On the day that followed the 
affair of Madame Rose, Mrs. Gray discovered Rachel's board. 

"More of Rachel's rubbish!" she thought, and she took the papers to the 
kitchen, and lit the fire with them forthwith. 

"Oh, mother! what have you done!" cried Rachel, when she discovered her 
loss. 

"Well, what about it?" tartly asked Mrs. Gray. 

A few silent, unheeded tears Rachel shed, but no more was said. 

But her very heart ached; and, perhaps, because it did ache, her longing 
to go and see her father returned all the stronger. The whole day, the 
thought kept her in a dream. 

"I never saw you so mopish," angrily exclaimed Mrs. Gray, "never!" 

Rachel looked up in her mother's face, and smiled so pleasantly, that 
Mrs. Gray was a little softened, she herself knew not why; but the smile 
was so very sweet. 

And again Rachel sat up that night, when all were sleeping in the little 
house; again she burned her precious candle ends, and sat and sewed, to 
finish the last of the half-dozen of fine linen shirts, begun a year 
before, purchased with the few shillings she could spare now and then 
from her earnings, and sewed by stealth, in hours robbed from the rest of 
the night, after the fatigue of the day. But, spite of all her efforts to 
keep awake, she fell asleep over her task. When she awoke, daylight 
gleamed through the chinks of the shutters; it was morning. She opened 
the window in some alarm; but felt relieved to perceive that it was early 
yet. The street was silent; every window was closed; the sky, still free 
from smoke was calm and pure; there was a peace in this stillness, which 
moved the very heart of Rachel Gray. She thought of the calm slumbers of 
the two millions, who, in a few hours, would fill the vast city, with 
noise, agitation and strife; and she half sadly wondered that for the few 
years man has to spend here below, for the few wants and cravings he 
derives from nature, he should think it needful to give away the most 
precious hours of a short life, and devote to ceaseless toil every 
aspiration and desire of his heart. 

It was too late to think of going to bed, which would, besides, have 
exposed her to discovery. So, after uniting her morning and evening 
prayers in one long and fervent petition of Hope and Love, she went back 
to her work, finished the little there was to do, then carefully folded 
up the six shirts, and tied them up in a neat parcel. 

When this was done, Rachel busied herself with her usual tasks about the 
house, until her mother came down. It was no uncommon thing for Rachel to 
get up early, and do the work, while her mother still slept; and, 
accordingly, that she should have done so, as Mrs. Gray thought, drew 
forth from her no comment on this particular morning. 

Everything, indeed, seemed to favour her project; for, in the course of 
the day, Mrs. Gray and Jane went out. Rachel remained alone with Mary. 

"Why, how merry you are to-day, Miss!" said Mary, looking with wonder at 
Rachel, as she busied herself about the house, singing by snatches. 

"It is such a fine day," replied Rachel; she opened the parlour window; 
in poured the joyous sunshine--the blue sky shone above the dull brick 
street, and the tailor's thrush began to sing in its osier cage. "A day 
to make one happy," continued Rachel; and she smiled at her own thoughts; 
for on such a beautiful day, how could she but prosper? "Mary," she 
resumed, after a pause, "you will not be afraid, if I go out, and leave 
you awhile alone, will you?" 

"La, bless you! no, Miss Gray," said Mary, smiling. "Are you afraid when 
you are alone?" she added, with a look of superiority; for she, too, 
seeing every one else around her do it, unconsciously began to patronize 
Rachel. 

"Oh, no!" simply replied Rachel Gray, too well disciplined into humility 
to feel offended with the pertness of a child, "I am never afraid; but 
then, I am so much older than you. However, since you do not mind it, I 
shall go out. Either Jane or my mother will soon be in, and so you will 
not long remain alone, at all events." 

"La, bless you! I don't mind," replied Mary, again looking superior. 

And now, Rachel is gone out. She has been walking an hour and more. 
Again, she goes through a populous neighbourhood, and through crowded 
streets; but this time, in the broad daylight of a lazy summer afternoon. 
Rachel is neither nervous nor afraid--not, at least, of anything around 
her. On she goes, her heart full of hope, her mind full of dreams. On she 
goes: street after street is passed; at length, is reached the street 
where Thomas Gray, the father of Rachel, lives. 

She stops at the second-hand ironmonger's and looks at the portraits and 
the books, and feels faint and hopeless, and almost wishes that her 
father may not be within. 

Thomas Gray was at his work, and there was a book by him at which he 
glanced now and then, Tom Paine's "Rights of Man." There was an empty 
pewter pot too, and a dirty public-house paper, from which we do not mean 
to have it inferred that Thomas Gray was given to intoxication. He was 
essentially a sober, steady man, vehement in nothing, not even in 
politics, though he was a thorough Republican. 

Thomas Gray was planing sturdily, enjoying the sunshine, which fell full 
on his meagre figure. It was hot; but as he grew old he grew chilly, 
when, suddenly, a dark shadow came between him and the light. He looked 
up, and saw a woman standing on the threshold of his shop. She was young 
and simply clad, tall and slender, not handsome, and very timid looking. 

"Walk in ma'am," he said, civilly enough. 

The stranger entered; he looked at her, and she looked at him. 

"Want anything?" he asked, at length. 

She took courage and spoke. 

"My name is Rachel," she said. 

He said nothing. 

"Rachel Gray," she resumed. 

He looked at her steadily, but he was still silent. 

"I am your daughter," she continued, in faltering accents. 

"Well! I never said you was not;" he answered rather drily. "Come, you 
need not shake so; there's a chair there. Take it and at down." 

Rachel obeyed; but she was so agitated that she could not utter one word. 
Her father looked at her for awhile, then resumed his work. Rachel did 
not speak--she literally could not. Words would have choked her; so it 
was Thomas Gray who opened the conversation. 

"Well, and how's the old lady?" he asked. 

"My mother is quite well, thank you. Sir," replied Rachel The name of 
father was too strange to be used thus at first. 

"And you--how do you get on? You 're a milliner, stay-maker--ain't 
you?"

"I am a dress-maker; but I can do other work," said Rachel, thinking 
this, poor girl! a favourable opening for her present.

"I have made these for you," she added, opening and untying her parcel; 
and displaying the shirts to her father's view, and as she did so, she 
gazed very wistfully in his face. 

He gave them a careless look. 

"Why, my good girl," he said, "I have dozens of shirts--dozens!" 

And he returned to his work, a moment interrupted. 

Tears stood in Rachel's eyes. 

"I am sorry," she began, "but--but I did not know; and then I thought--
I thought you might like them." 

"'Taint of much consequence," he philosophically replied, "thank you all 
the same. Jim," he added, hailing a lad who was passing by, "just tell 
them at the 'Rose' to send down a pint of half-and-half, will you? I dare 
say you'll have something before you go," he continued, addressing his 
daughter. "If you'll just look in there," he added, jerking his head 
towards the back parlour, "you'll find some bread and cheese on the 
table, there's a plate too."

Rachel rose and eagerly availed herself of this invitation, cold though 
it was; she felt curious too, to inspect, her father's domestic 
arrangements. She was almost disappointed to find everything so much more 
tidy than she could have imagined. She had hoped that her services as 
house-keeper might be more required, either then, or at some future 
period of time. She sat down, but she could not eat. 

"Here's the half-and-half," said her father from the shop. 

Rachel went and took it; she poured out some in a glass, but she could 
not drink; her heart was too full.

"You'd better," said her father, who had now joined her. 

"I cannot," replied Rachel, feeling ready to cry, "I am neither hungry 
nor thirsty, thank you." 

"Oh! aint you?" said her father, "yet you have a long walk home, you 
know." 

It was the second time he said so. Rachel looked up into his face; she 
sought for something there, not for love, not for fondness, but for the 
shadow of kindness, for that which might one day become affection--she 
saw nothing but cold, hard, rooted indifference. The head of Rachel sank 
on her bosom, "The will of God be done," she thought. With a sigh she 
rose, and looked up in her father's face. 

"Good bye, father," she said, for her father she would call him once at 
least.

"Good bye, Rachel," he replied.

She held out her hand; he took it with the same hard indifference he had 
shown from the beginning. He did not seek to detain her; he did not ask 
her to come again. His farewell was as cold as had been his greeting. 
Rachel left him with a heart full to bursting. She had not gone ten steps 
when he called her. She hastened back; he stood on the threshold of his 
shop, a newspaper in his hand. 

"Just take that paper, and leave it at the 'Rose,' will you? You can't 
miss the 'Rose'--it's the public-house round the left-hand corner." 

"Yes, father," meekly said Rachel. She took the paper from his hand, 
turned away, and did as she was bid. 

Her errand fulfilled, Rachel walked home. There were no tears on her 
cheek, but there was a dull pain at her heart; an aching sorrow that 
dwelt there, and that--do what she would--would not depart. In vain she 
said to herself--"It was just what I expected; of course, I could not 
think it would come all in a day. Besides, if it be the will of God, must 
I not submit?" still disappointment murmured: "Oh! but it is hard! not 
one word, not one look, not one wish to see me again; nothing--nothing." 

It was late when Rachel reached home. Mrs. Gray, confounded at her 
step-daughter's audacity in thus again absenting herself without leave, 
had, during the whole day, amassed a store of resentment, which now burst 
forth on Rachel's head. The irritable old lady scolded herself into a 
violent passion. Rachel received her reproaches with more of apathy than 
of her usual resignation. They were alone; Jane and Mary had retired to 
their room. Rachel sat by the table where the supper things were laid, 
her head supported by her hand. At the other end of the table sat Mrs. 
Gray erect, sharp, bitter; scolding and railing by turns, and between 
both burned a yellow tallow candle unsnuffed, dreary looking, and but 
half lighting the gloomy little parlour.  

"And so you won't say where you have been, you good-for-nothing 
creature," at length cried Mrs. Gray, exasperated by her daughter's long 
silence. 

Rachel looked up in her step-mother's face. 

"You did not ask me where I had been," she said deliberately. "I have 
been to see my father." 

Not one word could Mrs. Gray utter. The face of Rachel, pale, desolate, 
and sorrow-stricken, told the whole story. Rachel added nothing. She, lit 
another candle, and merely saying, in her gentle voice--

"Good night, mother," she left the room. 

As Rachel passed by the little room of the apprentices, she saw a streak 
of light gliding out on the landing, through the half-open door. She 
pushed it, and entered. Jane sat reading by the little table; Mary lay in 
bed, but awake. 

"I did not know you were up," said Rachel to Jane, "and seeing a light, I 
felt afraid of fire." 

"Not much fear of fire," drily answered Jane. Rachel did not heed her--
she was bending over Mary. 

"How are you to-night, Mary?" she asked. 

"Oh! I am quite well," pettishly answered Mary. 

Rachel smoothed the young girl's hair away from her cheek. She remembered 
how dearly, how fondly loved was that peevish child; and she may be 
forgiven if she involuntarily thought the contrast between that love, and 
her own portion of indifference, bitter. 

"Mary," she softly whispered, "did you say your prayers to-night?" 

"Why, of course I did." 

"And, Mary, did you pray for your father?" 

"I wish you would let me sleep," crossly said the young girl. 

"Oh! Mary--Mary!" exclaimed Rachel, and there was tenderness and pathos 
in her voice; "Mary, I hope you love your father--I hope you love him." 

"Who said I didn't?" 

"Ah! but I fear you do not love him as much as he loves you." 

"To be sure I don't," replied Mary, who had grown up in the firm 
conviction that children were domestic idols, of which fathers were the 
born worshippers. 

"But you must try--but you must try," very earnestly said Rachel. 
"Promise me that you will try, Mary." 

She spoke in a soft, low voice; but Mary, wearied with the discourse, 
turned her head away. 

"I can't talk, my back aches," she said peevishly. 

"Mary's back always aches when she don't want to speak," ironically 
observed Jane. 

"You mind your own business, will you!" cried Mary, reddening, and 
speaking very fast. "I don't want your opinion, at all events; and if I 
did--" 

"I thought you couldn't talk, your back ached so," quietly put in Jane. 

Mary burst into peevish tears. Jane laughed triumphantly. Rachel looked 
at them both with mild reproach. 

"Jane," she said, "it is wrong--very wrong--to provoke another. Mary, 
God did not give us tears--and they are a great gift of his mercy--to 
shed them so for a trifle. Do it no more." 

The two girls remained abashed. Rachel quietly left the room. She went to 
her own. She had prayed long that morning, but still longer did she pray 
that night. For alas!--who knows it not--the wings of Hope would of 
themselves raise us to Heaven; but hard it is for poor resignation to 
look up from this sad earth. 


CHAPTER VIII. 


We were made to endure. A Heathen philosopher held the eight of the just 
man's suffering, worthy of the Gods, and Christianity knows nothing more 
beautiful, more holy, than the calm resignation of the pure and the 
lowly, to the will of their Divine Father. 

It was the will of Heaven that Rachel should not be beloved of her 
earthly father. She bore her lot--not without sorrow; but, at least, 
without repining. Perhaps, she was more silent, more thoughtful, than 
before; but she was not less cheerful, and in one sense she was certainly 
not less happy. Affliction patiently borne for the love of the hand that 
inflicts it, loses half its sting. The cup is always bitter--and doubly 
bitter shall it seem to us, if we drink it reluctantly; but if we 
courageously dram it, we shall find that the last drop is not like the 
rest It is fraught with a Divine sweetness--it is a precious balsam, and 
can heal the deepest and most envenomed wound. 

This pure drop Rachel found in her cup. It strengthened and upheld her 
through her trial. "It is the will of God," she repeated to herself--"It 
is the will of God;" and those simple words, which held a meaning so 
deep, were to Rachel fortitude and consolation. 

And in the meanwhile, the little world around her, unconscious of her 
sufferings and her trials--for even her mother could not wholly divine 
them--went on its ways. Mrs. Gray grumbled, Jane was grim, Mary was 
peevish, and Mrs. Brown occasionally dropped in "to keep them going," as 
she said herself. 

As to Richard Jones, we will not attempt to describe the uneasiness of 
mind he endured in endeavouring to follow out Rachel's advice. He did not 
understand its spirit, which, indeed, she could not have explained. They 
who make the will of God their daily law, are guided, even in apparently 
worldly matters,--not indeed, so as never to commit mistakes, which were 
being beyond humanity, but so, at least, as to err as little as possible 
concerning their true motives of action. Our passions are our curse, 
spiritual and temporal; and the mere habit of subduing them gives 
prudence and humility in all things:--wisdom thus becomes one of the 
rewards which God grants to the faithful servant. 

But of this, what did Richard Jones--the most unspiritual of good men, 
know? After three days spent in a state of distracting doubt, he came to 
the conclusion that it was, and must be the will of Heaven that he should 
have a shop. Poor fellow! if he took his own will for that of the 
Almighty, did he fall into a very uncommon mistake? 

Once, his mind was made up, he turned desperate, went and secured the 
shop. He had all the time been in a perfect fever, lest some other should 
forestall him, after which he became calm. "Did not much care about Miss 
Gray's opinion--did not see why he should care about any one's opinion," 
and in this lofty mood it was that Richard Jones went and gave a loud, 
clear, and distinct knock at Mrs. Gray's door. 

Dinner was over--the apprentices were working--Rachel was dreaming, 
rather sadly, poor girl! for she thought of what was, and of what might 
have been. Mrs. Gray was reading the newspaper, when the entrance of 
Richard Jones, admitted by his daughter, disturbed the quiet little 
household. At once Mrs. Gray flew into politics. 

"Well, Mr. Jones," she cried, "and how are you? I suppose you know they 
are raising the taxes--and then such rates as we have, Mr. Jones--such 
rates!" 

Mrs. Gray was habitually a Tory, and not a mild one; but on the subject 
of taxes and rates, Mrs. Gray was, we are sorry to say, a violent 
radical. "She couldn't abide them," she declared. 

"And so they axe raising the taxes, are they!" echoed Mr. Jones, 
chuckling. "Eh! but that won't do for me, Mrs. Gray. I'm turning 
householder--and hard by here too!" he added, winking. 

Mrs. Gray did not understand at all. She coughed, and looked puzzled. Mr. 
Jones saw that Rachel had not spoken to her. He continued winking, 
chuckling, and rubbing his hands as he spoke. 

"I am going into business, Mrs. Gray." 

Mrs. Gray was profoundly astonished; Mary's work dropped on her lap as 
she stared with open mouth and eyes at her father, who chucked her chin 
for her. 

"Yes," he resumed, addressing Mrs. Gray; "I had always a turn that way." 

"Oh, you had!" 

"Always, Mrs. Gray; but I hadn't got no capital; and for a man to go into 
business without capital, why, ma'am, it's like a body that aint got no 
soul." 

"Don't talk so, Mr. Jones," said Mrs. Gray, to whom the latter 
proposition sounded atheistical, "don't!" 

"Well, but what's a man without capital?" asked Mr. Jones, unconscious of 
his offence, "why, nothink, Mrs. Gray, nothink! Well, but that's not the 
question--I've got capital now, you see, and so I am going to set up a 
grocery business in the rag and bottle shop round the corner; and I hare 
called to secure your custom--that's all, Mrs. Gray." 

He winked and chuckled again. Rachel could not help smiling. Mrs. Gray 
was grave and courteous, like any foreign potentate congratulating his 
dear brother, Monsieur mon frere, on some fortunate event of his reign. 

"I called to tell you that, Mrs. Gray," resumed Jones; "and, also, to ask 
a favour of Miss Gray. I should be so much obliged to 'her, if she could 
spare my little Mary for half an hour or so, just to look over the house 
with me." 

"Of course she can," replied Mrs. Gray for her meek daughter. "Go and put 
on your bonnet, Mary.'"

Mary, whom the tidings of the grocer's shop had most agreeably excited, 
rose with great alacrity to obey, and promptly returned, with her bonnet 
on. 

It was Rachel who let them out. 

"You need not be in a hurry to come back, dear," she whispered; "there's 
not more work than Jane and I can well manage." 

Mary's only reply to this kind speech, was a saucy toss of the head. The 
little thing already felt an heiress. 

"How much money have you got, father?" she promptly asked, as they went 
down the street, 

"Sixty pounds, my dear." 

"Law! that ain't much," said Mary, as if she had rolled in guineas all 
her life. 

"Well, it isn't," he replied candidly, and exactly in the same spirit; 
for if there is a thing people promptly get used to, it is money. 

Mary had always been her father's confidante; he now opened his whole 
heart to her, and was thereby much relieved. To his great satisfaction, 
Mary condescended to approve almost without restriction, all he had done. 
She accompanied him over the house and shop--thought "the whole concern 
rather dirty," but kindly added, "that when it was cleaned up a bit, it 
would do;" and finally gave it as her opinion, "that there wasn't a 
better position in the whole neighbourhood." 

"Of course there ain't," said Mr. Jones, sitting down on the counter. 
"The goodwives must either buy from me, or walk a mile. Now it stands to 
reason that, rather than walk a mile, with babies crying at home, and 
husbands growling--it stands to reason, I say, that they'll buy from me. 
Don't it, Mary?" 

"Of course it does." 

"Well, that ain't all. You see I know something of business. The interest 
of capital in business ranges from ten to a hundred per cent according to 
luck; now I am lucky being alone, so we'll say fifty per cent, which is 
moderate, ain't it, Mary?" 

"Of course it is," replied that infallible authority. 

"Well then: capital, sixty pounds; interest, fifty per cent. Why, in no 
time, like, I shall double my capital; and when it's doubled, I shall 
double it again--and so I'll go on doubling and doubling until I'm tired 
--and then we'll stop. Won't we, Mary?" 

The little thing laughed; her father gave her a kiss; got up from the 
counter, and with the golden vision of endless doubling of capital before 
him, walked out of the shop. 


CHAPTER IX. 


What airs little Mary took; how Jane taunted and twitted her, how Rachel 
had to interfere; how even Mrs. Brown chose to comment on the startling 
fact of a new grocer's shop, and what predictions she made, we leave to 
the imagination of the reader. 

We deal with the great day, or rather with the eve of the great day. It 
was come. Rachel, her mother, Mary, and Mr. Jones were all busy giving 
the shop its last finishing touch; on the next morning the Teapot was to 
open. 

"Well, Miss Gray, 'tain't amiss, is it?" said Jones, looking around him 
with innocent satisfaction. 

He was, as we have said before, a sort of Jack-of-all-trades, and to him 
the Teapot doubly owed its existence. He had painted the walls; he had 
fixed up the shelves in their places; the drawers and boxes his own hands 
had fashioned. We will not aver that a professional glazier and carpenter 
might not have done all this infinitely better than Richard Jones, but 
who could have worked so cheap or pleased Richard Jones so well? And thus 
with harmless pleasure he could look around him and repeat: 

"Well, Miss Gray, 'tain't amiss, is it?" 

"Amiss!" put in Mrs. Gray, before her daughter could speak, "I should 
think not. You're a clever man, Mr. Jones, to have done all that with 
your own hands, out of your own head." 

Mr. Jones rubbed his forehead, and passed his hand through his stubby 
hair. 

"Well, Ma'am, 'tain't amiss, though I say it that shouldn't, and though 
'tain't much." 

"Not much, father!" zealously cried Mary, not relishing so much modesty, 
"why, didn't you nail them shelves with your own hands?" 

"Well, child," candidly replied her father, "I think I may say I did." 

"And didn't you make all them square boxes, a whole dozen of them?" 

"Hold your tongue you little chit, and help Miss Gray there to put up the 
jams and marmalades."

"And didn't you paint the walls?" triumphantly exclaimed Mary, without 
heeding his orders. 

"Who else did, I should like to know?" 

"And the counter! who made the counter?" 

"Not I, Mary. I only polished it up." 

"Well, but what was it before you polished it up, father?" asked the 
pertinacious daughter. 

"Not much to speak of; that's the truth. Why, bless you, Mrs. Gray," he 
added, turning confidentially towards her, "you never saw such a poor 
object as that counter was in all your born days. It caught my eye at the 
corner of one of them second-hand shops in the New Cut. The man was 
standing at the door, whistling, with his hands in his pockets. 'That's 
fire-wood,' says I to him. 'No 'tain't, it's as good a counter as ever a 
sovereign was changed on.' 'My good man,' says I, 'it's firewood, and 
I'll give you five shillings for it.' Law, but you should have seen how 
he looked at me. Well, to cut a long story short, he swore it was a 
counter, and I swore it was firewood, and so, at length, I give him ten 
shillings for it, and brought it home and cleaned it down, and scraped 
the dirt, inch thick, off, and washed it, and painted it, and polished 
it, and look at it now, Mrs. Gray, look at it now!" 

"It's just like mahogany!" enthusiastically cried Mary, "ain't it. Miss 
Gray?" 

"Not quite, dear," mildly said Rachel, who was truth itself, "but it 
looks very nice. But, Mr. Jones," she added, in a low timid voice, "why 
did you tell the man it was firewood, when you meant it as a counter?" 

Jones wagged his head, winked, and touching his nose with his right hand 
forefinger, he whispered knowingly: "That was business, Miss Gray, and in 
business, you know--hem!" 

"But the Teapot, father," cried Mary, "where's the Teapot?" 

"Why, here's the Tea-pot," exclaimed Jones, suddenly producing this 
masterpiece of art, and holding it up aloft to the gaze of the beholders. 

Such a Teapot had never been seen before, and, most probably, will never 
be seen again, to the end of time. Its shape we will not, because we 
cannot describe. It confounded Rachel, and startled even Mrs. Gray. She 
coughed, and looked at it dubiously. 

"Where's the lid?" she said. 

"Why, here's the lid; but it don't take off, you know." 

"Oh! I see. And that's the handle." 

"The handle! bless you, Mrs. Gray, it's the spout." 

"Well, but where's the handle, then?" 

"Why, here's the handle, to be sure," replied Jones, rather nettled, 
"don't you see?" 

Mrs. Gray said she did; but we are inclined to believe she did not. 
However, Jones was satisfied; and, setting down the wooden Teapot--we 
forgot to say that it was flaming red--on the counter, he surveyed it 
complacently. 

"I spent a week on that Teapot," he said "didn't I, Mary?" 

"Ten days, father." 

"Well, one must not grudge time or trouble, must one, Mrs. Gray? And now, 
ladies, we'll put away the Teapot, and step into the parlour, and have a 
cup of tea, eh?" 

With the cup of tea, came a discussion of the morrow's prospects, and of 
the ultimate destinies of the Teapot--the upshot of which was, that Mr. 
Jones was an enterprising public man, and destined to effect a salutary 
revolution in the whole neighbourhood. Such, at least, was the opinion of 
Mrs. Gray, warmly supported by Mary. Mr. Jones was silent, through 
modesty; Rachel, because she was already thinking of other things. They 
parted late, though the Teapot was to open early. 

There is a report that it opened with dawn, Mr. Jones not having been 
able to shut his eyes all night for excitement. But it is more important 
to record that, until its close, late on the following evening, the 
Teapot was not one moment empty. Mary had remained at home, to assist her 
father; and she went through the day with perfect composure; but Mr. 
Jones was fairly overpowered: the cup of his honours was too full; the 
sum of his joy was too great. He blundered, he stammered, he was excited, 
and looked foolish. Altogether, he did not feel happy, until the shop was 
shut, and all was fairly over. He then sat down, wiped his forehead, and 
declared, that since he was married to his dear little Mary's blessed 
mother, he had never gone through such a trying day--never. 

"It's a fine thing Mr. Jones has undertaken," gravely observed Mrs. Gray 
to Mrs. Brown. 

But Mrs. Brown was inclined to look at the shady side of the Tea-pot. 

"La bless you!" she kindly said, "it'll never do. I said so from the 
first, and I say so the last, it'll never do!" 

"Oh, yes it will!" grimly observed Jane; "it will do for Mr. Jones, Mrs. 
Brown." 

"I hope not, Jane," said Rachel, gravely; "and I would rather," she 
added, with some firmness, and venturing for once on a reproof, "I would 
rather you did not think so much of what evil may happen to others. 
Sufficient to any of us is it to look forward to our own share of evil 
days." 

She raised her voice as she began; but it sank low ere she concluded. 
Surprised at herself for having said so much, she did not look round, but 
resumed her work, a moment interrupted. The room remained deeply silent 
Jane was crimson. For once, Mrs. Gray thought her daughter had spoken 
sensibly; and for once, Mrs. Brown found nothing to say. 


CHAPTER X. 


A week had passed over the Teapot, and, sitting in the back-parlour with 
Mary, who was busy sewing, Richard Jones dived deep into his books, and 
cast up his accounts. He allowed for rent, for expenditure, for 
household, for extras, then his face, brimful of ill-disguised 
exultation, he said to his daughter: "Well, Mary, dear, 'taint much to 
boast of, but for a first week, you see, 'taint amiss, either. I find, 
all expenses covered, one pound ten net profit. Now, you know, that 
makes, first, fifty-two pound a-year; then half of fifty-two, twenty-six; 
add twenty-six to fifty-two, seventy-eight--seventy-eight pound a-year, 
net-profit. Well, it stands to reason and common sense, that as I go on, 
my business will go on improving too; in short, put it at the lowest--I 
hate exaggeration--well put it at the lowest, and I may say that by next 
Michaelmas, we shall have a neat hundred." 

"Law! father, can't you say a hundred and fifty at once," peevishly 
interrupted Mary.

Mary's will was law. 

"Well, I really think I can say a hundred and fifty," ingenuously replied 
Richard Jones, "now, with a hundred and fifty pound for the first year, 
and just five per cent, as increase of profit for the second." 

"I'm sure it'll be ten per cent," again interrupted Mary, who, from 
hearing her father, had caught up some of the money terms of this
money-making world. 

"Well, I should not wonder if it would not," replied her docile papa. 
"We'll suppose it, at least; well that'd be fifteen pound to add to the 
hundred and fifty, or, rather, to the three hundred, and then for the 
next year it would be--let me see! Ah!" and he scratched his head. "I 
think I am getting into what they call compound interest, and, to say the 
truth, I never was a very quick arithmetician. At all events, it is 
pretty clear that at the end of ten years, we shall stand at the head of 
something like fifteen hundred pound, and a flourishing house of 
business," he added, glancing towards the shop--"a flourishing house of 
business," he continued, complacently passing his Angers through his 
hair. 

Awhile he mused, then suddenly he observed: "Mary, my dear, hadn't you 
better go to bed?" Mary now slept at home. "You have to get up early, you 
know." 

"Yes; but I ain't going to," she tartly replied. "It gives me a pain in 
my side," she added. 

"Then you shall not get up early," authoritatively said Mr. Jones. "I'll 
not allow my daughter to work herself to death for no Miss Grays." 

"I don't think I shall go at all to-morrow," composedly resumed Mary. "I 
don't like dress-making--it don't agree with me." 

Mr. Jones had at first looked startled, but this settled the question. 

"If dress-making don't agree with you, not another stitch shall you put 
in," he said, half angrily. "I think myself you don't look half so well 
as you used to, and though Miss Gray is as nice a person as one need wish 
to meet, I think she might have perceived it before this; but interest 
blinds us all--every one of us," he added, with a philosophic sigh over 
the weaknesses of humanity. 

"I know what Jane will be sure to say," observed Mary; "but I don't 
care." 

"I should think not! Law! bless you, child, I have got quite beyond 
troubling my poor brains with what other people thinks; and if I choose 
to keep my daughter at home now that I can afford to do so, why shouldn't 
I? It's a hard case, if, when a man's well off and comfortable, and 
getting on better and better every day--it's a hard case, indeed, if he 
can't keep his only child with him." 

This matter decided, Mary went up to her room; her father remained by the 
fireside, looking at the glowing coals, and dreaming to his heart's 
content.

"If I go on prospering so," he thought, "why should I not take--in time, 
of course--some smart young fellow to help me in the shop? It stands to 
reason that customers like to be served quickly. Law, bless you! they 
hate waiting," he added, thoughtfully, addressing the fire, and giving it 
a poke, by way of comment, "the ladies always hate it. But, as I was 
saying, why shouldn't I take some smart young man, and he, of course--
why, I know what he'd do--why, he'd fall in love with Mary, of course--
and why shouldn't he?" inquired Jones, warming with his subject "Was I 
not a poor fellow once, and did I not marry my master's daughter?" 

Mr. Jones gave the fire another poke. In the burning coals he saw a 
pleasing vision rise. He saw his shop full of customers; he served with 
slow dignity, assisted by a "tight, brisk young fellow," busy as a bee, 
active as a deer, for it was Saturday night, and the fair maids and 
matrons of the vicinity were all impatient. Then from Saturday it was 
Sunday; the shop was closed, the street was silent. Young Thomson was 
brushing his coat in the yard and whistling; Mary was upstairs dressing; 
another five minutes, and she comes down in straw bonnet lined with pink, 
clean printed muslin frock, mousseline-de-laine shawl, brown boots and 
blue parasol. The happy father saw them going off together with delighted 
eyes and brimful heart Then other visions follow; one of a wedding 
breakfast at which Mr. Jones sings a song, and another of half a dozen 
grandchildren, all tugging at his skirts, whilst he solemnly rocks the 
baby, and as solemnly informs the infant: "that he had done as much for 
its mother once."

Peace be with such dreams whenever they come to the poor man's hearth! 

A little surprised at not seeing Mary as usual on the following morning, 
and thinking she might be unwell, Rachel Gray sent Jane to enquire. Jane 
soon returned, her face brimful of news. 

"Well," said Rachel, "how is Mary?" 

"Law bless you Miss, Mary's well enough." 

"Why did she not come then?" 

"She does not like dress-making no more." 

And Jane sat down, and took up her work, and became deeply absorbed in a 
sleeve trimming. Rachel reddened and looked pained. She liked Mary; the 
pale, sickly child reminded her strongly of her own lost sister, and 
though she could allow for the natural tartness with which Jane had no 
doubt fulfilled her errand, yet she knew that Jane was true, and that as 
she represented it, the matter must be. 

For a while she suspended her work, sadly wondering at the causeless 
ingratitude of a child whom she had treated with uniform kindness and 
indulgence, then she tried to dismiss the matter from her mind; but she 
could not do so, and when dusk came round, her first act, as soon as she 
laid by her work, was to slip out unperceived--for Mrs. Gray, highly 
indignant with Mr. Jones and his daughter, would certainly have opposed 
her--and go as far as the Teapot. 

Mr. Jones was serving a customer. He did not recognize Rachel as she 
entered the shop, and hastily called out: 

"Mary--Mary come and serve the lady." 

"It's only me, Mr. Jones," timidly said Rachel. 

"Walk in, Miss Gray," he replied, slightly embarrassed, "walk in, you'll 
find Mary in the back parlour, very glad to see you, Miss Gray." 

Much more sulky than glad looked Mary, but of this Rachel took no notice; 
she sat down by the side of the young girl, and, as if nothing had 
occurred, spoke of the Teapot and its prospects. To which discourse Mary 
gave replies pertinaciously sullen. 

"Mary!" at length said Rachel, "why did you not come to work to day, were 
you unwell?" 

This simple question obtaining no reply, Rachel repeated it; still Mary 
remained silent, but when a third time Rachel gently said: "Mary what was 
it ailed you?" 

Mary began to cry. 

"Well, well, what's the matter?" exclaimed her father looking in, "you 
ain't been scolding my little Mary have you. Miss Gray?" 

"I!" said Rachel, "no, Mr. Jones, I only asked her why she did not come 
this morning?" 

"Because I would not let her," he replied, almost sharply, "dress-making 
don't agree with my Mary, Miss Gray, and you know I told you from the 
first, that if her health wouldn't allow it, she was not to stay." 

And a customer calling him back to the shop, he left the parlour 
threshold. Rachel rose. 

"Good-night, Mary," she gently said; "if you feel stronger, and more able 
to work, you may come back to me." 

Mary did not reply. 

"Good-night, Mr. Jones," said Rachel, passing through the shop. 

"Good-night, Miss Gray," he replied, formally. "My best respects to Mrs. 
Gray, if you please." 

When people have done an insolent and ungrateful thing, they generally 
try to persuade themselves that it was a spirited, independent sort of 
thing; and so now endeavoured to think Richard Jones and his daughter--
but in vain. To both still came the thought: "Was this the return to make 
to Rachel Gray for all her kindness?" 

The conscience of Mr. Jones, little used to such reflections, made him 
feel extremely uneasy; and if that of Mary was not quite so sensitive, 
the dull routine of the paternal home added much force to the conclusion 
"that she had much better have stayed with Miss Gray." Mary was too 
childish, and had ever been too much indulged to care for consistency. At 
the close of a week, she therefore declared that she wished to go back to 
Miss Gray, and did not know why her father had taken her away. 

"I--I--my dear!" said Richard Jones, confounded at the accusation, "you 
said getting up early made your side ache." 

"So it did; but I could have got up late, and gone all the same, only you 
wouldn't let me; you kept me here to mind the shop. I hate the shop. 
Teapot and all!" added Mary, busting into tears. 

Jones hung down his head--then shook it 

"Oh! my little Mary--my little Mary!" he exclaimed, ruefully; and he 
felt as if he could hare cried himself, to see the strange perversity of 
this spoiled child, "who turned upon him," as he internally phrased it, 
and actually upbraided him with his over-indulgence. 

A wiser father would never have thus indulged a pettish daughter, and 
never have humbled himself as, to please his little Mary, Richard Jones 
now did. That same day, he went round to Rachel Gray's; he had hoped that 
she might be alone in the little parlour; but no, there sat, as if to 
increase his mortification, Mrs. Gray, stiff and stern, and Jane smiling 
grimly. Rachel alone was the same as usual. Jones scratched his head, 
coughed, and looked foolish; but at length he came out with it: 

"Would Miss Gray take back his daughter, whose health a week's rest had 
much improved--much improved," he added, looking at Rachel doubtfully. 

Mrs. Gray drew herself up to utter a stern "No," but for once the mild 
Rachel checked and contradicted her mother, and said: 

"Yes, Mr. Jones, with great pleasure. You may send her to-day, if you 
like. She has missed us, and we have missed her."

"Thank you, Miss Gray--thank you," said Jones, hurriedly rising to 
leave. 

"Give Mary my kind love," whispered Rachel, as she let him out. 

But Jones had not heard her. Very slowly, and with his hands in his 
pockets, he walked down the street. He had not grown tired of Mary's 
company; why had Mary grown tired of his? "It's natural, I suppose," he 
thought, "it's natural;" and when he entered the shop, where Mary sat 
sulking behind the counter, and he told her that she might go back to 
Miss Gray's, and when he saw her face light up with pleasure, he forgot 
that, though natural, it was not pleasant. 

"You may go to-day," he added, smiling. 

At once, Mary flew upstairs to her room. In less than five minutes, she 
was down again, and merely nodding to her father as she passed through 
the shop, off she went, with the light, happy step of youth. 

"It's natural," he thought again, "it's very natural," but he sighed. 

Mrs. Gray took in high dudgeon the consent her daughter had given to the 
return of Mary Jones. She scarcely looked at that young lady the whole 
day, and when she was gone, and Jane had retired to her little room, and 
mother and daughter sat together, Rachel got a lecture. 

"You have no spirit," indignantly said Mrs. Gray. "What! after the little 
hussy behaving so shamefully, you take her back for the asking!" 

"She is but a child," gently observed Rachel. 

"But her father ain't a child, is he?" 

Rachel smiled. 

"Indeed, mother, he is not much better," she replied. 

"I tell you, that you ain't got a bit of spirit," angrily resumed Mrs. 
Gray. "The little imperent hussy! to think of playing her tricks here! 
And do you think I'm agoing to stand that?" added Mrs. Gray, warming with 
her subject; "no, that I ain't! See if I don't turn her out of doors 
to-morrow morning." 

"Oh! mother, mother, do not!" cried Rachel, alarmed at the threat; "think 
that she is but a child, after all. And, oh, mother!" she added with a 
sigh, "have you never noticed how like she is to what our own little Jane 
once was?" 

Mrs. Gray remained mute. She looked back in the past for the image of her 
lost child. She saw a pale face, with blue eyes and fair hair, like 
Mary's. Never before had the resemblance struck her; when it came, it 
acted with overpowering force on a nature which, though rugged, and 
stern, and embittered by age and sorrows, was neither cold nor forgetful. 

One solitary love, but ardent and impassioned, had Sarah Gray known, in 
her life of three-score and ten--the love of a harsh, but devoted mother 
for an only child. For that child's sake had its father, whom she had 
married more for prudential reasons than for motives of affection, become 
dear to her heart. He was the father of her Jane. For that child's sake, 
had she, without repining, borne the burden of Rachel. Rachel was the 
sister of her Jane. Never should Rachel want, whilst she had heart and 
hands to work, and earn her a bit of bread. 

But when this much-loved child, after ripening to early youth, withered 
and dropped from the tree of life; when she was laid to sleep in a 
premature grave, all trace of the holy and beautiful tenderness which 
gives its grace to womanhood, seemed to pass away from the bereaved 
mother's heart. She became more harsh, more morose than she had ever 
been, and had it been worth the world's while to note or record it, of 
her too it might have been said, as it was of England's childless King, 
"that from one sad day she smiled no more." And now, when she heard 
Rachel, when in her mind she compared the living with the dead, strength, 
pride, fortitude forsook her, her stern features worked, her aged bosom 
heaved, passionate tears flowed down her wrinkled cheek. 

"Oh! my darling--my lost darling!" she cried, in broken accents, "would 
I could have died for thee! would thou wert here to-day! would my old 
bones filled thy young grave!"

And she threw her apron over her face, and moaned with bitterness and 
anguish. 

"Mother, dear mother, do not, pray do not!" cried Rachel, distressed and 
alarmed at so unusual a burst of emotion. After a while, Mrs. Gray 
unveiled her face. It was pale and agitated; but her tears had ceased. 
For years they had not flowed, and until her dying day, they flowed no 
more. 

"Rachel," she said, looking in her step-daughter's face, "I forgive you. 
You have nearly broken my heart. Let Mary come, stay, and go; but talk to 
me no more of the dead. Rachel, when my darling died," here her pale lips 
quivered, "know that I rebelled against the Lord--know that I did not 
give her up willingly, but only after such agony of mind and heart as a 
mother goes through when she sees the child she has borne, reared, 
cherished, fondled, lying a pale, cold bit of earth before her! And, 
therefore, I say, talk no more to me about the dead, lest my rebellious 
heart should rise again, and cry out to its Maker: 'Oh God! oh God! why 
didst thou take her from me!'"

Mrs. Gray rose to leave the room. On the threshold, she turned back to 
say in a low, sad voice: 

"The child may come to-morrow, Rachel." 


CHAPTER XI. 


Mrs. Gray had never cared about Mary Jones; she had always thought her 
what she was indeed--a sickly and peevish child. But now her heart 
yearned towards the young girl, she herself would have been loth to 
confess why. Mary took it as a matter of course, Jane wondered, Rachel 
well knew what had wrought such a change; but she said nothing, and 
watched silently. 

In softened tones, Mrs. Gray now addressed the young girl. If Rachel 
ventured to chide Mary, though ever so slightly, her step-mother sharply 
checked her. "Let the child alone," were her mildest words. As to Jane or 
Mrs. Brown, they both soon learned that Mary Jones was not to be looked 
at with impunity. Mrs. Gray wondered at them, she did, for teazing the 
poor little thing. In short, Mary was exalted to the post of favourite to 
the ruling powers, and she filled it with dignity and consequence. 

But the watchful eye of Rachel Gray noted other signs. She saw with 
silent uneasiness, the fading eye, the faltering step, the weakness daily 
increasing of her step-mother; and she felt with secret sorrow that she 
was soon to lose this harsh, yet not unloving or unloved companion of her 
quiet life. 

Mrs. Gray complained one day of feeling weak and ailing. She felt worse 
the next day, and still worse on the third. And thus, day by day, she 
slowly declined without hope of recovery. Mrs. Gray had a strong, though 
narrow mind, and a courageous heart. She heard the doctor's sentence 
calmly and firmly; and virtues which she had neglected in life, graced 
and adorned her last hours and her dying bed. Meek and patient she bore 
suffering and disease without repining or complaint, and granted herself 
but one indulgence: the sight and presence of Mary. 

The young girl was kinder and more attentive to her old friend than might 
have been expected from her pettish, indulged nature. She took a sort of 
pride in keeping Mrs. Gray company, in seeing to Mrs. Gray, as she called 
it Her little vanity was gratified in having the once redoubtable Mrs. 
Gray now wholly in her hands, and in some sort a helpless dependent on 
her good-will and kindness. It may be, too, that she found a not unworthy 
satisfaction in feeling and proving to the little world around her, that 
she also was a person of weight and consequence. 

But her childish kindness availed not. The time of Mrs. Gray had come; 
she too was to depart from a world where toil and few joys, and some 
heavy sorrows had been her portion. Mary and Rachel were alone with her 
in that hour. 

Mary was busy about the room. Rachel sat by her mother's bed. Pale and 
languid, Mrs. Gray turned to her step-daughter, and gathering her 
remaining strength to speak, she said feebly: "My poor Rachel, I am 
afraid I have often teazed and tormented you. It was all temper; but I 
never meant it unkindly--never indeed. And then, you see, Rachel," she 
added, true to her old spirit of patronizing and misunderstanding her 
step-daughter, "Your not being exactly like others provoked me at times; 
but I know it shouldn't--it wasn't fair to you, poor girl! for of course 
you couldn't help it." 

And Rachel, true to her spirit of humble submission, only smiled, and 
kissed her mother's wasted cheek, and said, meekly: "Do not think of it, 
dear mother--do not; you were not to blame." 

And she did not murmur, even in her heart. She did not find it hard that 
to the end she should be slighted, and held as one of little worth. 

A little while after this, Mrs. Gray spoke again. "Where is Mary?" she 
said. 

"And here I am, Mrs. Gray," said Mary, coming up to her on the other side 
of the bed. 

Mrs. Gray smiled, and stretched out her trembling hands, until they met 
and clasped those of the young girl. Then, with her fading eyes fixed on 
Mary's face, she said to Rachel: 

"Rachel, tell your father that I forgive him, will you?" 

"Yes, mother," replied Rachel, in a low tone.  

"Rachel," she said again, and her weak voice rose, "Rachel, you have been 
a good and a faithful daughter to me--may the Lord bless you!" 

Tears streamed down Rachel's face on hearing those few words that paid 
her for many a bitter hour; but her mother saw them not, still her look 
sought Mary. 

"In Thy hands, Lord, I commend my spirit," she murmured, and with her 
look still fastened on little Mary's pale face, she died. 

Sad and empty seemed the house to Rachel Gray when her mother was gone. 
She missed her chiding voice, her step, heavy with age, her very 
scolding, which long habit had made light to bear. 

The solitude and liberty once so dear and so hardly won, now became 
painful and oppressive; but Rachel was not long troubled with either. 

We are told that "he whom He loveth He chasteneth;" and Rachel was not 
unloved, for she, too, was to have her share of affliction. Spite her 
sickly aspect, she enjoyed good health, and, therefore, when she rose one 
morning, shortly after her mother's death, and felt unusually languid and 
unwell, Rachel was more surprised than alarmed. 

"La, Miss! how poorly you do look!" exclaimed Jane, laying down her work 
with concern. 

"I do not feel very well," replied Rachel, calmly, "but I do not feel 
very ill, either," she added, smiling. 

Her looks belied her words; vainly she endeavoured to work; by the united 
entreaties of Jane and Mary, she was at length persuaded to go up to her 
room. She laid down on her bed, and tried to sleep, but could not; she 
thought of her step-mother, so harsh, yet so kind in her very harshness; 
of her father, so cold and unloving; of her silent, lonely life, and its 
narrow cares and narrow duties, above which smiled so heavenly a hope, 
burning like a clear star above a dark and rugged valley; and with these 
thoughts and feelings, heightening them to intensity, blended the heat 
and languor of growing fever. 

When Mary came up to know if Rachel Gray wanted anything, she found her 
so ill that she could scarcely answer her question. She grew rapidly 
worse. The medical man who was called in, pronounced her disease a slow 
fever, not dangerous, but wasting. 

"Then there is nothing for it but patience," resignedly said Rachel, "I 
fear I shall be the cause of trouble to those around me, but the will of 
God be done." 

"La, Miss! we'll take care of you," zealously said Jane, "shan't we, 
Mary?" 

"Of course we will," as zealously replied the young girl. 

Rachel smiled at their earnestness; but their zeal was destined to be 
thrown in the shade by that of a third individual. On the fourth day of 
her illness, Rachel was awakened from a heavy sleep into which she had 
fallen, by the sound of angry though subdued voices on the staircase. 

"I tell you 'taint a bit of use, and that you're not going to go up," 
said the deep, emphatic tones of Jane. 

"Et je vous dis que je veux monter, moi!" obstinately exclaimed the 
shrill French voice of Madame Rose. 

Jane, who was not patient, now apparently resorted to that last argument 
of kings and nations, physical force, to remove the intruder, for there 
was the sound of a scuffle on the staircase, but if she had strength on 
her side, Madame Rose had agility, and though somewhat ruffled and out of 
breath, she victoriously burst into Rachel's room. 

"Take care, Miss, take care," screamed Jane, rushing up after her, "the 
French madwoman has got in, and I couldn't keep her out." 

"Don't be afraid, Jane," said Rachel, as the alarmed apprentice made her 
appearance at the door, "I am very glad to see Madame Rose. I tell you 
she will not hurt me, and that I am glad to see her," she added, as Jane 
stared grimly at the intruder. 

She spoke so positively, that the apprentice retired, but not without 
emphatically intimating that she should be within call if Miss Gray 
wanted her. 

Rachel was too ill to speak much; but Madame Rose spared her the trouble 
by taking that task on herself; indeed, she seemed willing to take a 
great deal on herself, and listless as Rachel was, she perceived with 
surprise that Madame Rose was in some measure taking possession of her 
sick room. She inquired after Mimi. Madame Rose shook her head, produced 
a square pocket-handkerchief, applied it to her eyes, then turned them 
up, till the whites alone were visible; in short, she plainly intimated 
that Mimi had gone to her last home; after which she promptly dried her 
tears, and, partly by speech, partly by pantomime, she informed Rachel 
that the apprentices were too busy sewing to be able to attend on her, 
and that she--Madame Rose--would undertake that care. Rachel was too 
ill and languid to resist; and Jane and Mary, though they resented the 
intrusion of the foreigner, were unable to eject her, for, by possession, 
which is acknowledged to be nine-tenths of the law, Madame Rose made her 
claim good, until the enemy had abandoned all idea of resistance. 

And a devoted nurse she made, ever attentive, ever vigilant. For three 
months did Rachel see, in her darkened room, the active little figure of 
the Frenchwoman, either moving briskly about, or sitting erect in her 
chair, knitting assiduously, occasionally relieved, it is true, by Jane 
and Mary. She saw it when she lay in the trance of fever and pain, unable 
to move or speak; in her few moments of languid relief, it was still 
there, and it became so linked, in her mind, with her sick room, that, 
when she awoke one day free from fever, the delightful sensation that 
pain was gone from her, like the weary dream of a troubled night fled in 
the morning, blended with a sense of surprise and annoyance at missing 
the nod and the smile of Madame Rose. 

Rachel looked around her wondering, and in looking, she caught sight of 
the portly and vulgar figure of Mrs. Brown; she saw her with some 
surprise, for she knew that that lady entertained a strong horror of a 
sick room. 

"It's only me!" said Mrs. Brown, nodding at her. "You are all right now, 
my girl." 

"I feel much better, indeed," replied Rachel 

"Of course you do; the fever is all gone, otherwise you should not see me 
here, I promise you," added Mrs. Brown, with another nod, and a knowing 
wink. 

"And Madame Rose," said Rachel, "where is Madame Rose?" 

"Law! don't trouble your mind about her. Keep quiet, will you?" 

Mrs. Brown spoke impatiently. Rachel felt too weak to dispute her 
authority, but when Jane came up, she again inquired after Madame Rose. 
Jane drily said it was all right, and that Miss Gray was to keep quiet; 
and more than this she would not say. 

The fever had left Rachel. She was now cured, and rapidly got better; but 
still, she did not see Madame Rose, and was favoured with more of Mrs. 
Brown's company than she liked. At length she one day positively exacted 
an explanation from Jane, who reluctantly gave it.

"Law bless you, Miss!" she said, '"tain't worth talking about. Mrs. Brown 
can't abide the little Frenchwoman; and so, one day when she went out, 
she locked the door, and wouldn't let Mary open it; and when Madame Rose 
rang and rapped, Mrs. Brown put her head out of the window, and railed at 
her, until she fairly scared her away from the place." 

"But what brought Mrs. Brown here?" asked Rachel, who had heard her with 
much surprise. 

Jane looked embarrassed, but was spared the trouble of replying by the 
voice of Mrs. Brown, who imperatively summoned her downstairs. She 
immediately complied, and left Rachel alone. A mild sun shone in through 
the open window on the sick girl; she had that day got up, for the first 
time, and sat in a chair with a book on her knees. But she could not 
read: she felt too happy, blest in that delightful sense of returning 
health which long sickness renders so sweet. Her whole soul overflowed 
with joy, thankfulness, and prayer, and for once the shadow of sad or 
subduing thoughts fell not on her joy. 

"Well, my girl, and how are you to-day?" said the rough voice of Mrs. 
Brown, who entered without the ceremony of knocking. 

Rachel quietly replied that she felt well--almost quite well. 

"Of course you do. I knew I'd bring you round," said Mrs. Brown. "La 
bless you! all their coddling was just killing you. So I told Jane, all 
along, but she wouldn't believe me. 'La bless you, girl!' I said to her, 
'I do it willingly, but ifs only just a wasting of my money,' says I." 

"Your money, Mrs. Brown?" interrupted Rachel, with a start. 

"Why, of course, my money. Whose else? Didn't you know of it?" 

"Indeed, I did not," replied Rachel, confounded. 

"La! what a muff the girl is!" good-humouredly observed Mrs. Brown. "And 
where did you think, stupid, that the money you have been nursed with 
these three months came from? Why, from my pocket, of course; twenty 
pound three-and-six, besides a quarter's rent, and another running on." 

Rachel was dismayed at the amount of the debt. When and how should she be 
able to pay so large a sum? Still, rallying from her first feeling of 
surprise and dismay, she attempted to express to Mrs. Brown her gratitude 
for the assistance so generously yielded, and her hope of being able to 
repay it some day; but Mrs. Brown would not hear her. 

"Nonsense, Rachel," she said, "I ain't a-done more than I ought to have 
done for my cousin's step-daughter. And to whom should Jane, when she 
wanted money, have come, but to me? And as to paying me, bless you! 
there's no hurry, Rachel. I can afford, thank Heaven, to lend twenty 
pound, and not miss it." 

This was kindness--such Rachel felt it to be; but, alas! she also felt 
that these was on her, from that day, the badge of obligation and 
servitude. She was still too weak to work; she had, dining her long 
illness, lost the best part of her customers; until her full recovery, 
she was, perforce, cast on Mrs. Brown for assistance, and, of all 
persons, Mrs. Brown was the last not to take advantage of such a state of 
things. Mrs. Brown came when she liked, said what she liked, and did what 
she liked in Rachel's house. But, indeed, it was not Rachel's house--it 
was Mrs. Brown's. Rachel was there on sufferance; the very bed on which 
she slept was Mrs. Brown's; the very chair on which she sat was Mrs. 
Brown's. So Mrs. Brown felt, and made every one feel, Rachel included. 

The effects of her rule were soon apparent. Every article of furniture 
changed its place; every household nook was carefully examined and 
improved, and every luckless individual who entertained a lingering 
kindness for Rachel Gray, was affronted, and effectually banished from 
the house, from irascible Madame Rose down to peaceful Mr. Jones. 

Rachel carried patience to a fault; through her whole life, she had been 
taught to suffer and endure silently, and now, burdened with the sense of 
her debt and obligation, she knew not how to resist the domestic tyranny 
of this new tormentor. The easiest course was to submit. To Rachel it 
seemed that such, in common gratitude, was her duty; and, accordingly, 
she submitted. But this was a time of probation and trial: as such she 
ever looked back to it, in after life. To Jane, her patience seemed 
amazing, and scarcely commendable. 

"I wonder you can bear with the old creetur, that I do," she said, 
emphatically. 

"Mrs. Brown means kindly," said Rachel, "and she has been a kind friend 
to me, when I had no other friend. I may well hare a little patience." 

"A little patience!" echoed Jane, indignantly, "a little patience! when 
she's always at you." 

But Rachel would hear no more on the subject. If she bore with Mrs. 
Brown, it was not to murmur at her behind her back. Yet she was not so 
insensible to what she endured, but that she felt it a positive relief 
when Mrs. Brown went and paid one of her nieces a visit in the country, 
and for a few weeks delivered the house of her presence. Internally, 
Rachel accused herself of ingratitude because she felt glad. "It's very 
wrong of me, I know," she remorsefully thought, "but I feel as if I could 
not help it." 

Her health was now restored. She had found some work to do; with time she 
knew she should be able to pay Mrs. Brown. Her mind recovered its 
habitual tone; old thoughts, old feelings, laid by during the hour of 
trial and sickness, but never forsaken, returned to her now, and time, as 
it passed on, matured a great thought in her heart. 

"Who knows," she often asked herself, in her waking dreams, "who knows if 
the hour is not come at last? My father cannot always turn his face from 
me. Love me at once he cannot; but why should he not with time?" Yet it 
was not at once that Rachel acted on these thoughts. Never since he had 
received her so coldly, had she crossed her father's threshold; but 
often, in the evening, she had walked up and down before his door, 
looking at him through the shop window with sad and earnest eyes, never 
seeking for more than that stolen glance, though still with the 
persistency of a fond heart, she looked forward to a happier future. 

And thus she lingered until one morning, when she rose, nerved her heart, 
and went out; calmly resolved to bear as others, to act. 

She went to her father's house. She found him sturdy and stern, planing 
with the vigour of a man in the prime of life. His brow became clouded, 
as he saw and recognized his daughter's pale face and shrinking figure. 
Still he bade her come in, for she stood on the threshold timidly waiting 
for a welcome; and his ungraciousness was limited to the cold question of 
what had brought her. 

"I am come to see you, father," was her mild reply. And as to this Thomas 
Gray said nothing, Rachel added: "My mother is dead."

"I know it, and have known it these three months," he drily answered. 

"She died very happy," resumed Rachel, "and before she died, she desired 
me to come and tell you that she sincerely forgave you all past 
unkindness." 

A frown knit the rugged brow of Thomas Gray. His late wife had had a 
sharp temper of her own; and perhaps he thought himself as much sinned 
against as sinning. But he made no comment.

"Father," said Rachel, speaking from her very heart, and looking 
earnestly in his face, "may I come and live with you?" 

Thomas Gray looked steadily at his daughter, and did not reply. But 
Rachel, resolved not to be easily disheartened, persisted none the less. 
"Father," she resumed, and her voice faltered with the depth of her 
emotion, "pray let me. I know you do not care much for me. I dare say you 
are right, that I am not worth much; but still I might be useful to you. 
A burden I certainly should not be; and in sickness, in age, I think, I 
hope, father, you would like to have your daughter near you. 

"I am now your only child," she added, after a moment's pause; "the only 
living thing of your blood, not one relative have I in this wide world; 
and you, father, you too are alone. Let me come to live with you. Pray 
let me! If my presence is irksome to you," added Rachel, gazing wistfully 
in his face, as both hope and courage began to fail her, "I shall keep 
out of the way. Indeed, indeed," she added with tears in her eyes, "I 
shall." 

He had heard her out very quietly, and very quietly he replied: "Rachel, 
what did I go to America for?" 

Rachel, rather bewildered with the question, faltered that she did not 
know. 

"And what did I come to live here for?" he continued.

Rachel did not answer; but there was a sad foreboding in her heart. 

"To be alone," he resumed; and he spoke with some sternness, "to be 
alone." And he went back to his planing. 

With tears which he saw not, Rachel looked at the stern, selfish old man, 
whom she called her father. The sentence which he had uttered, rung in 
her heart; but she did not venture to dispute its justice. Her simple 
pleading had been heard and rejected. More than she had said, she could 
not say; and it did not occur to her to urge a second time the homely 
eloquence which had so signally failed when first spoken. But she made 
bold to prefer a timid and humble petition. "Might she come to see him?" 

"What for?" he bluntly asked. 

"To see how you are, father," replied poor Rachel. 

"How I am," he echoed, with a suspicious gathering of the brow, "and why 
shouldn't I be well, just tell me that?" 

"It might please Providence to afflict you with sickness," began Rachel. 

"Sickness, sickness," he interrupted; indignantly, "I tell you, woman, I 
never was sick in my life. Is there the sign of illness, or of disease 
upon me?" 

"No, indeed, father, there is not." 

"And could you find a man of my age half so healthy, and so strong as I 
am--just tell me that?" he rather defiantly asked. 

Poor Rachel was literal as truth. Instead of eluding a reply, she simply 
said: "I have seen stronger men than you, father." 

"Oh I you have--have you!" he ejaculated eyeing her with very little 
favour. 

And though Rachel was not unconscious of her offence, she added: "And 
strong or weak, father, are we not all in the hands of God?" 

From beneath his bushy grey eyebrows, Thomas Gray looked askance at his 
daughter; but love often rises to a fearlessness that makes it heroic, 
and Rachel, not daunted, resumed: "Father," she said, earnestly, "you do 
not want me now; I know and see it, but if ever you should--and that 
time may come, pray, father, pray send for me."

"Want you? and what should I want you for?" asked Thomas Gray. 

"I cannot tell, I do not know; but you might want me. Remember, that if 
you do, you have but to send for me. I am willing, ever willing." 

He looked at her as she stood there before him, a pale, sallow, sickly 
girl, then he laughed disdainfully, and impatiently motioned her away, as 
if his temper were chafed at her continued presence. Rachel felt, indeed, 
that her visit had been sufficiently long, and not wishing to close on 
herself the possibility of return--for she had one of those quietly 
pertinacious natures that never give up hope--she calmly bade her father 
good-bye. Without looking at her, he muttered an unintelligible reply. 
Rachel left the shop, and returned to her quiet street and solitary home. 

Yet solitary she did not find it. True, Jane was out on some errand or 
other, but Mary was alone in the parlour. She sat with her work on her 
lap, crying as if her heart would break. 

In vain she tried to hide or check her tears; Rachel saw Mary's grief, 
and forgetting at once her own troubles, she kindly sat down by the young 
girl, and asked what ailed her. 

At first, Mary would not speak, then suddenly she threw her arms around 
Rachel's neck, and with a fresh burst of tears, she exclaimed: "Oh! dear, 
dear Miss Gray! I am so miserable." 

"What for, child?" asked Rachel astonished. 

"He's gone--he's gone!" sobbed Mary. 

"Who is gone, my dear?" 

Mary hung down her head. But Rachel pressed her so kindly to speak, that 
her heart opened, and with many a hesitating pause, and many a qualifying 
comment, Mary Jones related to her kind-hearted listener a little story, 
which, lest the reader should not prove so indulgent, or so patient as 
Rachel Gray, we will relate in language plainer and more brief. 


CHAPTER XII. 


Time had worn on: nine months in all had passed away since the opening of 
the Teapot. 

We must be quite frank: Mr. Jones had not always made the one pound ten a 
week dear profit; and of course this affected all his calculations: the 
ten per cent for increase of gain included. There had been weeks when he 
had not realized more than one pound, others when he made ten shillings, 
ay and there had been weeks when all he could do--if he did do so--was 
to make both ends meet. It was odd; but it was so. Mr. Jones was at first 
much startled; but, he soon learned to reconcile himself to it. 

"It stands to reason," he philosophically observed to Mary, "it's 
business, you see, it's business." The words explained all. 

Another drawback was that the front room which was worth five shillings a 
week, as his landlord had proved to Mr. Jones in their very first 
conversation, and for which Mr. Jones had therefore allowed--on the 
faith of his landlord's word--thirteen pounds a year in his accounts--
never let at all. This was the first intimation Mr. Jones received of the 
practical business truth, that it is necessary to allow for losses. 

He had almost given up all thoughts of letting this unfortunate room, and 
indeed the bill had had time to turn shabby and yellow in the shop 
window, when one morning a young man entered the shop and in a cool 
deliberate tone said: "Room to let?"
 
"Yes, Sir," replied Jones rather impressed by his brief manner. 

"Back or front?" 

"Front, Sir, front. Capital room, Sir!" 

"Terms?" 

"Five shillings a-week, Sir. A room worth six shillings, anywhere else. 
Like to see it, Sir? Mary--Mary, dear, just mind the shop awhile, will 
you?" 

Mary came grumbling at being disturbed, whilst her father hastened 
upstairs before the stranger, and throwing the window open, showed him a 
very dusty room, not over and above well furnished. 

"Capital room. Sir!" said Mr. Jones, winking shrewdly; "real Brussels 
carpet; portrait of Her Majesty above the mantel-piece; and that bed, Sir 
--just feel that bed, Sir," he added, giving it a vigorous poke, by way 
of proving its softness; "very cheerful look-out, too; the railroad just 
hard by--see all the trains passing." 

Without much minding these advantages, the stranger cast a quick look 
round the room, then said in his curt way: "Take four shillings for it? 
Yes. Well then, I'll come to-night." 

And without giving Mr. Jones time to reply, he walked downstairs, and 
walked out through the shop. 

"Well, father, have you let the room?" asked Mary, when her father came 
down, still bewildered by the young man's strange and abrupt manner. 

"Well, child," he replied, "I suppose I may say I have, for the young man 
is coming to-night." 

"What's his name?" promptly asked Mary. 

"I'm blest if I know; he never told me, nor gave me time to ask." 

"But, father, you don't mean to say you let the room to him, without 
knowing his name?" 

"But I didn't let the room to him," said Mr. Jones; "it was he took it." 

"Well, that's queer!" said Mary. 

"Queer! I call it more than queer!" exclaimed the grocer, now turning 
indignant at the treatment he had received; "but he shan't sleep in it, 
though, till I've got his references, I can tell him." 

The words were scarcely out of his mouth, when into the shop again walked 
the stranger. 

"My name is Joseph Saunders," he said, briefly, "and if you want to know 
more, apply to Mr. Smithson, number thirteen, in the alley hard by. He'll 
give you all the particulars." 

Having delivered which piece of information, he once more vanished. Well, 
there was nothing to say to this; and Mr. Jones, who had an inquisitive 
temper, was preparing to dart off to Mr. Smithson's, who did indeed live 
hard by, when Mr. Joseph Saunders once more appeared. 

"P'r'aps you'd like the first week," he said; and without waiting for a 
reply, he laid four shillings down on the counter, and again disappeared 
--this time to return no more. Mary was very much struck. 

"He looks quite superior," she said, "quite. Saunders--Joseph Saunders! 
what a nice name." 

"That's all very well," replied her father, sweeping the four shillings 
into the till, "but I must have a word or two to say with Mr. Smithson--
for all that his name is Joseph Saunders." 

He took his hat, and walked out to seek Mr. Smithson, an old and stiff 
dealer in earthenware, who lived within a stone's-throw of the Teapot. 
The day was fine, and Mr. Smithson was airing his pans and dishes, and 
setting them along the pavement, like traps for the feet of unwary 
passengers.

"Good-morning to you," began Jones, in a conciliating tone. 

"Good-morning!" replied, or rather, grunted Mr. Smithson, without taking 
the trouble to look up. 

"I have just come round to inquire about a young man--his name is Joseph 
Saunders. Do you know him?" 

"S'pose I do?" answered Mr. Smithson too cautious to commit himself. 

"Well then, s'pose you do--you can tell me something about him, can't 
you?" 

"What for?" drily asked the earthenware dealer. 

"What for!" exclaimed Mr. Jones, beginning to lose his temper, "why, 
because he's taken my front room, and I want to know what sort of a chap 
he is, and because, too, he has referred me to you--that's what for." 

"Well, then," said Mr. Smithson, "I'll just tell you this: first, he'll 
pay his rent; second, he'll give no trouble; third, that's all." 

With which Mr. Smithson, who had for a moment looked up, and paused in 
his occupation, returned to his earthenware. 

"And what does he do?" asked Mr. Jones, not satisfied with this brief 
account. 

"If you was to stay here from now till to-morrow morning," surlily 
replied Mr. Smithson, "you'd know no more from me." 

Mr. Jones whistled, and walked off, with his hands in his pockets. He had 
been guilty of the unpardonable sin of not purchasing a shilling's worth 
of Mr. Smithson's goods since he had come to the neighbourhood, and of 
course Mr. Smithson felt aggrieved. 

"Well, father," eagerly exclaimed Mary, as soon as she saw her father; 
"who is he? What is he? What does he do? Is he married--" 

"Bless the girl!" interrupted Mr. Jones, "how am I to know all that? 
He'll pay his rent, and he's respectable, and more don't concern us; and 
it's time for you to go to Miss Gray, ain't it?" 

With which limited information Mary had, perforce, to remain satisfied. 

The new lodger proved to be what Mr. Jones graphically termed "a very 
buttoned-up sort of chap;" a tall, dark, silent, and reserved man, who 
paid his rent every week, went out early every morning, came home at ten 
every night, and vanished every Sunday. 

We have already hinted that Mr. Jones had a spice of curiosity; this 
mystery teazed him, and by dint of waylaying his guest both early and 
late, he succeeded in ascertaining that he had recently left his 
situation in a large house in the city, and that he was in search of 
another. No more did Mr. Joseph Saunders choose to communicate; but this 
was enough. 

For some time, the poor grocer had had a strong suspicion that he was not 
a very good business man; that he wanted something; energy, daring, he 
knew not what, but something he was sure it was. 

"Now," he thought, "if I could secure such a young fellow as that; it 
would be a capital thing for me, and in time not a bad one for him. For 
suppose, that he becomes a Co., and marries Mary, why the house is his, 
that's all. Now I should like to know what man in the city will say to 
him: 'Saunders, I'll make a Co. of you, and you shall have my daughter.'" 

Fully impressed with the importance of the proposal he had to make, Mr. 
Jones accordingly walked up one morning to his lodger's room; and after a 
gentle knock, obtained admittance. But scarcely had he entered the room, 
scarcely cast a look around him, when his heart failed him, Joseph 
Saunders was packing up. 

"Going, Sir?" faintly said Jones.

"Why yes!" replied the young man, "I have found a situation, and so I am 
off naturally. My week is up to-morrow, I believe, but not having given 
notice, I shall pay for next, of course." 

He thrust his hand in his pocket as he spoke. Poor Mr. Jones was too much 
hurt with his disappointment to care about the four shillings. 

"Pray don't mention it," he said hurriedly, "your time's up to-morrow, 
and so there's an end of it all." Which words applied to the end of his 
hopes, more than anything else. 

Mr. Saunders gave him a look of slight surprise, but said quietly: "No, 
no, Mr. Jones, what's fair is fair. I gave no notice, and so here are 
your four shillings." He laid them on the table as he spoke; and resumed 
his packing. 

He forgot to ask what had brought Mr. Jones up to his room, and Mr. Jones 
no longer anxious to tell him, pocketed his four shillings and withdrew 
hastily, under pretence that he was wanted in the shop. 

Mr. Jones had not acted in all this without consulting his daughter; she 
had tacitly approved his plans, and when he had imprudently allowed her 
to see how he thought those plans likely to end by a matrimonial alliance 
between herself and young Saunders, a faint blush had come over the poor 
little thing's sallow face, and stooping to shun her father's kind eye, 
she pretended to pick up a needle that had not fallen. And now she was 
waiting, below, for it was early yet, and she had not gone to Miss Gray's 
--she was waiting to know the result of her father's conference with Mr. 
Saunders. No wonder that he came down somewhat slowly, and not a little 
crest-fallen. All he said was: "He's got a new situation," and whistling 
by way of showing his utter unconcern, he entered the shop, where a dirty 
child with its chin resting on the counter, was waiting to be served. 

Mary too had had her dreams, innocent dreams, made up of the shadow of 
love, and of the substance of girlish vanity. The poor child felt this 
blow, the first her little life had known, and childishly began to cry. 
Her eyes were red when she went to work, but she sat in shadow, and Jane, 
who seldom honoured Miss Jones with her notice, saw nothing. Rachel Gray 
was too much absorbed in her own thoughts to heed what passed around her. 

It was only on her return, that finding Mary in tears, she drew from her 
the little tale of her hope and disappointment. It is not an easy task to 
console, even the lightest sorrow, for it is not easy to feel sympathy. 
Yet little as her grave mind, and earnest heart could understand the 
troubles of Mary Jones, little as she could feel in reality for the 
childish fancy to which they owed their birth, Rachel felt for the young 
girl's grief, such as it was, and by sympathy and mild reasoning, she 
soothed Mary, and sent her home partly consoled. 

Of course, Mr. Saunders was gone--he had left too without any adieu or 
message. Mary's vanity was as much hurt as her heart.

Mr. Jones was not habitually a man of keen perceptions, but love is ever 
quick. It cut him to the heart to see his little Mary so woebegone. He 
looked at her wistfully, tried to check a sigh, and said as brightly as 
he could: 

"Cheer up, Mary; law bless you girl, well have lots of lodgers yet; and 
as to that Saunders, I don't so much care about it, now he's gone. He was 
a clever fellow, but he hadn't got no capital, and as to taking a Co. 
without capital, why none but a good-natured easy fellow like me would 
dream of such a thing now a days; but, as I said, we'll have lots of 
lodgers--lots of lodgers." 

"We never had but that one all them nine months," said Mary with some 
asperity. 

"They're all a coming," said her father gaily, "They're all a coming." 

And he said it in such droll fashion, and winked so knowingly that, do 
what she could, Mary could not but laugh. 


CHAPTER XIII. 


Mary was gone; Jane, had come in but to go up to her room. Rachel sat 
alone in the little parlour, reading by candle-light.

And did she read, indeed! Alas no! Her will fixed her eyes on the page, 
but her mind received not the impressions it conveyed. The sentences were 
vague and broken as images in a dream; the words had no meaning. 
Outwardly, calm as ever did Rachel seem, but there was a strange sorrow--
a strange tumult in her heart. 

That day the hope of years had been wrecked, that day she had offered 
herself, and been finally rejected. In vain she said to herself: "I must 
submit--it is the will of God, I must submit." A voice within her ever 
seemed to say: "Father, Father why hast thou forsaken me!" until, at 
length, Rachel felt as if she could bear no more. 

Sorrows endured in silence are ever doubly felt. The nature of Rachel 
Gray was silent; she had never asked for sympathy; she had early been 
taught to expect and accept in its stead, its bitter step-sister 
Ridicule. Derided, laughed at, she had learned to dread that the look of 
a human being should catch a glimpse of her sorrows. If her little 
troubles were thus treated--how would her heavier griefs fare? 

And now no more than ever did Rachel trouble any with her burden. Why 
should she? Who, what was she that others should care whether or not her 
father loved her! That he did not sufficiently, condemned her to 
solitude. The pitying eye of God might, indeed, look down upon her with 
tenderness and love, but from her brethren Rachel expected nothing. 

And thus it was that, on this night, after consoling the idle sorrows of 
an indulged child, Rachel, sitting in solitude, found the weight of her 
own grief almost intolerable. Like all shy and nervous persons, she was 
deeply excitable. Anger she knew not; but emotions as vehement, though 
more pure, could trouble her heart. And now she was moved, and deeply 
moved, by a sense of injustice and of wrong. Her father wronged her--
perhaps he knew it not; but he wronged her. "God Almighty had not given 
him a child, she felt, to treat it thus, with mingled dislike and 
contempt Were there none to receive his slights and his scorn, but his 
own daughter?" 

She rose, and walked up and down the room with some agitation. Then came 
calmer and gentler thoughts, moving her heart until her tears flowed 
freely. Had she not failed that day--had she not been too cold in her 
entreaties, too easily daunted by the first rejection? Had she but 
allowed her father to see the love, deep and fervent, which burned in his 
daughter's heart--he would not, he could not so coldly have repelled and 
cast her from him. 

"And why not try again?" murmured an inner voice; "the kingdom of Heaven 
is taken by storm--and what is the kingdom of Heaven, but the realm of 
love?" 

At first, this seemed a thought so wild, that Rachel drew back from it in 
alarm, as from an abyss yawning at her feet. But even as our looks soon 
become familiar with images of the wildest danger, so the thought 
returned; and she shrank not back from it. Besides, what had she to lose? 
Nothing! With a sort of despair, she resolved to go and seek Thomas Gray, 
and attempt once more to move him. "If he rejects me now," she added, 
inwardly, "I shall submit, and trouble him no more." 

The hour was not late; besides, in her present mood, the timid Rachel 
felt above fear. She was soon dressed--soon on her road. This time 
neither annoyance nor evil befell her. She passed like a shadow through 
crowds, and like a shadow was unheeded. The night was dark and dreary; a 
keen wind whistled along the streets--but for either cold or darkness 
Rachel cared not. Her thoughts flowed full and free in her brain; for 
once, she felt that she could speak; and a joyful presentiment in her 
heart told her that she would, and should be heard--and not in vain. 

Absorbed in those thoughts, Rachel scarcely knew what speed she had made, 
until, with the mechanical impulse of habit, she found herself stopping 
before the second hand ironmonger's shop. Wakening as from a dream, and 
smiling at herself, she went on. Rachel had expected to find the shop of 
Thomas Gray closed, and himself absent; but the light that burned from 
his dwelling, and shed its glow on the opposite houses, made her heart 
beat with joy and hope. Timidly, she looked in through the glass panes; 
the shop was vacant; her father was, no doubt, in the back parlour. 
Rachel entered; the door-bell rang. She paused on the threshold, 
expecting to see him appear from within, nerving herself to bear his cold 
look, and severe aspect; but he came not He was either up-stairs, or in 
some other part of the house, or next door with a neighbour. 

There was a chair in the shop; Rachel took it, sat down, and waited--how 
long, she herself never knew; for seconds seemed hours, and all true 
consciousness of time had left her. At length, she wondered; then she 
feared--why was her father's house so silent and so deserted? She went 
to the door, and looked down the street. It was still and lonely; every 
house was shot up; and even from the neighbouring thoroughfare, all 
sounds of motion and life seemed gone. 

Suddenly Rachel remembered the little public-house to which her father 
had once sent her. She had often seen him going to it in the evening; 
perhaps he was there now. In the shadow of the houses, she glided up to 
the tavern door--it stood half open--she cautiously looked in; and 
standing, as she did in the gloom of the street, she could do so unseen. 
The landlord sat dozing in the bar--not a soul was with him. Rachel 
glanced at the clock above his head; it marked a quarter to twelve. 
Dismayed and alarmed, she returned to her father's house. It so chanced, 
that as she walked on the opposite side of the narrow street, a 
circumstance that had before escaped her notice, now struck her. In the 
room above the shop of Thomas Gray, there burned a light. She stopped 
short, and looked at it with a beating heart. She felt sure her father 
was there. 

Rachel re-entered the shop, and again sat down, resolved to be patient; 
but her nervous restlessness soon became intolerable. Seized with an 
indefinite fear, she rose, took the light, and entered the parlour: it 
was vacant. Passing under a low door which she found ajar, she went up a 
dark staircase. It ended with a narrow landing, and a solitary door; she 
knocked, and got no reply; she tried it, it yielded to her hand, and 
opened; but Rachel did not cross the threshold; she paused upon it, 
awe-struck at the sight she saw. The room was a small one, poorly 
famished, with a low and narrow bed, a table and a few chairs. On the 
mantle-shelf burned a tallow light, dim and lurid for want of snuffing; 
its dull glow fell on the motionless figure of Thomas Gray. He sat 
straight and stiff in a wooden chair, with a hand resting on each arm. 
His face was ghastly pale, and rigid as death; his eyes stared on the 
blank wall before him, and seemed void of sight.

"My father is dead," thought Rachel. She entered the room and went up to 
him. But when she laid her hand on his arm, a slight convulsive motion 
showed her that he still lived. Ay, he lived, of that living death, which 
is worse than the true. Paralysis had fallen upon him without warning. 
Like a thief in the night it had come; and in a few brief seconds it had 
laid low the proud man's strength. Of that strength he had boasted in the 
morning; twelve hours had not gone round--where was it now? 

Rachel did not lose her presence of mind. How she went out, found a 
doctor, and brought him back, she never exactly knew; but she did it.

The medical man looked at Thomas Gray, then at Rachel. 

"You are his daughter," he said, kindly. 

"Yes, sir, I am." 

"Well, then, my poor girl, I am very sorry for you--very sorry. Your 
father may live years but I can hold out no prospect of recovery." 

"None, sir?" faltered Rachel, looking wistfully in his face. 

"Not the least. Better I should tell you so at once, than deceive you." 

But Rachel would not--could not believe him. The sentence was too hard, 
too pitiless to be true. 

"Father, father! do you know me?" she cried. 

He stared vacantly in her face. Did he know her? Perhaps he did. Who can 
tell how far the spirit lived in that dead body? But if know her he did, 
gone was the time when he could hold intercourse with that long slighted, 
and now bitterly avenged daughter. 

In vain she clung weeping around his neck, in vain she called on him to 
reply. He merely looked at her in the same vacant way, and said 
childishly, "Never mind." 

"But you know me--you know me, father!" said Rachel. 

Again, he looked at her vacantly, and still the only words he uttered 
were, "Never mind." 

"His mind is gone for ever," said the doctor. 

Rachel did not answer. She clasped her hands, and looked with wistful 
sadness on the old man's blank face. With a pang she felt and saw that 
now, indeed, her dream was over--that never, never upon earth, should 
she win that long hoped-for treasure--her father's love. 


CHAPTER XIV. 


In the grey of the morning, Rachel brought her father to the humble 
little home which he had voluntarily forsaken years before. 

Thomas Gray was not merely a paralyzed and helpless old man, he was also 
destitute. Little more than what sufficed to cover his current expenses 
did Rachel find in his dwelling; his furniture was old and worthless; and 
the good-will of the business scarcely paid the arrears of rent.

But the world rarely gives us credit for good motives. It was currently 
reported that Thomas Gray was a wealthy man, and that if Rachel Gray did 
not let him go to the workhouse, she knew why. "As if she couldn't let 
him go, and keep his money too," indignantly exclaimed Jane, when she 
heard this slander; and, as discretion was not Jane's virtue, she 
repeated all to Rachel Gray. Poor Rachel coloured slightly. It seemed 
strange, and somewhat hard too, that her conduct should be judged thus. 
But the flush passed from her pale face, and the momentary emotion from 
her heart. "Let the world think, and say what it likes," she thought, "I 
need not, and I will not care." 

Not long after Rachel brought home her father, Jane left her. The time of 
her apprenticeship was out; besides, she was going to marry. She showed 
more emotion on their parting, than might have been expected from her. 

"God bless you. Miss Gray," she said several times; "God bless you--you 
are a good one, whatever the world may think." 

The praise was qualified, and, perhaps, Rachel felt it to be so, for she 
smiled; but she took it as Jane meant it--kindly. Amity and peace marked 
their separation. 

Rachel now remained alone with her father and Mary. The young girl was 
not observant. She saw but a quiet woman, and a helpless old man, with 
grey hair, and stern features blank of meaning, who sat the whole day 
long by the fire-side, waited on by his patient daughter. Sometimes, 
indeed, when Rachel Gray attended on her father with more than usual 
tenderness, when she lingered near his chair, looking wistfully in his 
face, or with timid and tender hand gently smoothed away his whitened 
hair from his rugged brow, sometimes, then, Mary looked and wondered, and 
felt vaguely moved, but she was too childish to know why. 

And, indeed, the story of Rachel's life at this time cannot be told. It 
was beautiful; but its beauty was not of earth, and to earthly glance 
cannot be revealed. It lay, a divine secret, between her heart and God. 

This peace was not destined to last Rachel and her father sat alone one 
morning in the parlour, when Mrs. Brown, who had found the street door 
ajar, burst in without preliminary warning. She was scarlet, and looked 
in a towering passion. 

"You audacious creatur," she screamed; "you audacious hussey, how dare 
you bring that man in this house--in my house! How dare you?" 

"He is my father," said Rachel, confounded, both at the accusation, and 
at the unexpected appearance of Mrs. Brown. 

The reply exasperated Mrs. Brown. She had never felt any extraordinary 
friendship or affection for her deceased cousin; but she had always 
entertained a very acute sense of her cousin's wrongs, and had 
accordingly honoured Thomas Gray with no small share of hatred and 
vituperation, and that Rachel should not feel as she did on the subject, 
or should presume to remember that the sinner was her father, was, in 
Mrs. Brown's eyes, an offence of the deepest dye. She gave her feelings 
free vent. She was a vulgar woman, and had a flow of vulgar eloquence at 
her command. She overwhelmed Rachel and Thomas Gray with sarcasm, scorn 
and abuse, and Rachel answered not one word, but heard her out, still as 
a statue, and pale as death. Mrs. Brown, too, was pale, but it was with 
wrath. 

"Do you know," she added, trembling from head to foot with that passion, 
"do you know that I could turn you out on the streets, you and your 
beggarly father--do you know that?" 

Rachel did know it, and groaned inwardly. Mrs. Brown saw her agony, and 
triumphed in the consciousness of her own power. But the very violence of 
her anger had by this time exhausted it; she felt much calmer, and took a 
more rational view of things. 

"I am a fool to mind what a simpleton like you does," observed Mrs. 
Brown, with that disregard of politeness which was one of her attributes; 
"for, being a simpleton, how can you but do the acts of a simpleton? As 
to bringing your father here, you must have been mad to think of it; for, 
if you can't support yourself, how can you support him? However, it's 
lucky I'm come in time to set all to rights. What's his parish? 
Marylebone, ain't it? I shall see the overseer this very day, and manage 
that for you; and it's just as well," added Mrs. Brown, divesting herself 
of bonnet and shawl, and proceeding to make herself at home, "that you 
didn't meddle, in it--a pretty mess you'd have made of it, I'll be 
bound. Well! and what do you stand dreaming there for? Make me a cup of 
tea--will you? I am just ready to drop with it all." 

As a proof of her assertion, she sank on the chair next her, took out her 
pocket-handkerchief, and began fanning herself. But, instead of complying 
with Mrs. Brown's orders, Rachel Gray stood before that lady motionless 
and pale. She looked her in the face steadily, and in a firm, clear 
voice, she deliberately said: 

"Mrs. Brown, my father shall never, whilst I live, go to a workhouse." 

"What!" screamed Mrs. Brown. 

"I say," repeated Rachel, "that my father shall never, whilst God gives 
his daughter life, go to a workhouse." 

Mrs. Brown was confounded--then she laughed derisively. 

"Nonsense, Rachel," she said, "nonsense. Why, I can turn you out, this 
very instant." 

But the threat fell harmless, Rachel was strong in that hour; her cheek 
had colour, her eye had light, her heart had courage. She looked at the 
helpless old man, who had drawn this storm on her head, then at Mrs. 
Brown, and calmly laying her hand on the shoulder of Thomas Gray, she 
again looked in Mrs. Brown's face, and silently smiled. Her choice was 
made--her resolve was taken. 

"Will you send him to the workhouse, or not?" imperatively cried Mrs. 
Brown. 

"No," deliberately replied Rachel. 

"Oh! very well, ma'am, very well," echoed Mrs. Brown, laughing bitterly; 
"please yourself--pray please yourself. So, that is my reward for saving 
you from beggary, is it? Very well, ma'am; you and your father may pack 
off together--that's all." 

"Be it so," rather solemnly replied Rachel, "be it so. What I leave in 
this house will, I trust, cancel the debt I owe you. Father," she added, 
stooping towards him, "lean on my shoulder, and get up. We must go." 

With apathy Thomas Gray had heard all that had passed, and with apathy, 
he trembling rose, and complied with Rachel's intimation, and looking in 
her face, he uttered his usual childish: "Never mind." 

But before they reached the door, Mrs. Brown, to the surprise and dismay 
of Rachel, went into violent hysterics. She was an over-bearing and 
ill-tempered woman, but her heart was not wholly unkind; and on seeing 
that Rachel so readily took her at her word, she was overwhelmed with 
mingled rage and shame. Hastily making her father sit down on the nearest 
chair, Rachel ran to Mrs. Brown's assistance. A fit of weeping and bitter 
reproaches followed the hysterics; and Rachel was convicted of being the 
most ungrateful creature on the face of the earth. In vain Rachel 
attempted a justification; Mrs. Brown drowned her in a torrent of speech, 
and remained the most injured of women. 

The scene ended as such scenes ever end. There was a compromise; the 
victim made every concession, and the triumphant tyrant gained more than 
her point. In short, that her father might not want the shelter of a 
roof, Rachel agreed to remain in the house, and Mrs. Brown kindly agreed 
to come and live in it, and use Rachel as her servant and domestic slave, 
by which Mrs. Brown, besides keeping her firm hold on Rachel--no slight 
consideration with one who loved power beyond everything else--effected 
a considerable saving in her income. 

"Oh! my father--my father!" thought Rachel, as she bent over his chair 
that night, and tears, which he felt not, dropped on his gray hair, 
"little do you know what I shall have to bear for your sake." 

She did not speak aloud, yet he seemed vaguely conscious that something 
lay on her mind; for he shook his head, and uttered his eternal "Never 
mind--never mind!" 

"And I will not mind--so help me God!" fervently answered Rachel aloud. 

And she did not mind; but, alas! what now was her fate? Ask it not. She 
had made her sacrifice in the spirit of utter abnegation, and none need 
count the cost which she never reckoned. 


CHAPTER XV. 


The same cloud of trouble and sorrow that now darkened the daily life of 
Rachel Gray, soon gathered over her neighbours and friends. With boding 
and pain, she watched the coming of a calamity, to them still invisible. 

Mr. Jones got up one morning, and felt exactly as usual. He took down his 
shutters, and no presentiment warned him of the sight that was going to 
greet his eyes. 

The Teapot stood at the corner of a street which had naturally another 
corner facing it; that corner--let it be angle, if you like, critical 
reader--had, from time immemorial, been in the possession of a brown, 
tottering, untenanted house, whose broken parlour windows Mr. Jones had 
always seen filled with, blank oak shutters, strong enough for security 
and closing within.

But now, to his dismay, he saw half-a-dozen workmen pulling down the 
bottom of the house, and leaving the top untouched. His heart gave a 
great thump in his bosom. "I'm a lost man," he thought, "they're making a 
shop of it." 

And so they were, but what sort of a shop was it to be? That was the 
question. Jones lost no time; he put down his shutter, thrust his hands 
in his pocket--his usual resource when he wanted to look unconcerned--
sauntered awhile down the street, talked to some children, and finally 
came back to the workmen. 

"Pulling it down," he said, after looking at them for awhile, "an old 
rubbishing concern--ain't it?" 

"Pulling it down!" echoed one of the workmen, giving him a contemptuous 
look, "much you know about it." 

"Well, but what is it to be?" asked Jones, looking as simple as he could, 
"stables?" 

"Stables! a shop, stupid!" 

"Oh! a shop! Ah! it's to be a shop, is it? And what sort of a shop--
public-house? We want one." 

"Better ask Mr. Smithson; the house is his." 

"Oh! it's Mr. Smithson's, is it?" 

Jones walked away much relieved. 

Mr. Smithson had long talked of removing himself and his earthenware to 
some larger tenement than that which he now occupied; a pleasant 
neighbour he was not; but anything was better than the fear which had for 
a moment seized the heart of Richard Jones.

The workmen did not linger over their task, indeed, Mr. Smithson took 
care that they should not. Night and morning, the whole day long, Jones 
saw him after them; he watched him through the pots of Scotch marmelade 
that decorated the front of his shop window, and internally admired the 
indefatigable zeal Mr. Smithson displayed. Humbly, too, he contrasted it 
with his own deficiencies in that respect "I ain't got no spirit; that's 
the fact of it," confessed Mr. Jones in his own heart.

In a comparatively short space of time, the bricklayers had done their 
task; they were succeeded by the carpenters, who proved as zealous and as 
active. And now fear and trembling once more seized the heart of Richard 
Jones. What were those busy carpenters about? why were they fabricating 
shelves and drawers? drawers of every size, some small, some large, just 
such drawers as he had in his shop? He questioned one of their body: what 
was to be sold in that shop--did he know? The man could not tell, but 
rather fancied it was to be an oil and colour shop. Then it was not to be 
Mr. Smithson's own? Oh, no, certainly! 

Jones walked away, a prey to the most tormenting anxiety. Was the man 
right--was he wrong? had he spoken the truth? had he deceived him? Was 
he, Jones, now that his business was really improving, was he threatened 
with a rival? Or was this but a false alarm, the phantom of his fears? 
what would he not have given to think so! His ease was the more 
distressing, that he dared unburthen his mind to none, to Mary least of 
any. She, poor little thing, far from sharing her father's fears, 
rejoiced in the prospect of a new shop. 

"It'll make the street quite gay," she said to her father, "especially if 
it's a linen-draper's. I wonder if they'll have pretty bonnets." 

She tried to obtain information on this interesting point, but failed 
completely. Suspense is worse than the worst reality. Richard Jones lost 
appetite and sleep. Slumber, when it came, was accompanied by such 
fearful nightmare, that waking thoughts, though bitter, were not, at 
least, so terrible. He could not forget the opposite shop; in the first 
place, because he saw it every morning with his bodily eyes; in the 
second, because it ever haunted that inward eye called by Wordsworth 'the 
bliss of solitude.' How far it proved a bliss to Richard Jones, the 
reader may imagine. 

All this time the shop had been progressing, and now bricklayer, 
carpenter, glazier, and decorator haying done their work, it was 
completed and ready for its tenant, who, however, seemed in no hurry to 
appear. This proved the worst time for Richard Jones. To look at that 
shop all the day long, and not to be able to make anything of it; to 
wonder whether it were a friend or an enemy; whether it would give new 
lustre to the street on which he had cast his fortunes, or blast those 
fortunes in their very birth, was surely no ordinary trial. Well might he 
grow thin, haggard, and worn. 

At length, the crisis came. At the close of November, a dread rumour 
reached his ears. The shop was to be a grocer's shop, and it was to open 
a week before Christmas. 

That same evening, Mary came home crying, and much agitated. Mrs. Brown, 
with her usual kindness, had given information. 

"Oh, father!" she exclaimed, "Mrs. Brown says it's to be a grocer's 
shop." 

"So I have heard to-day," he replied, a little gloomily. "Never mind, 
child," he added, attempting to cheer up, and a rueful attempt it turned 
out, "never mind, I dare-say there's room for two." 

He said it, but he knew it was not true; he knew there was room but for 
one, and that if two came, why, either both must perish after a fierce 
contest, or one survive and triumph over the ruin of the other's all. He 
knew it, and groaned at the thought. 

"I wish you wouldn't father," said Mary, again beginning to cry. 

"Mary, my pet, I can't help it," said Jones, fairly giving way to 
feelings too long repressed; "there aint room for two, that's the plain 
truth of it, and if another grocer comes, why, he must ruin me, or I must 
ruin him; and that aint pleasant to think of, is it?" 

Mary was not without spirit. 

"Father," she cried resolutely, "if it's to be, why, it's to be, and it 
can't be helped; but I wouldn't give in without trying to get the upper 
hand, that I wouldn't." 

Her father shook his head disconsolately. 

"Child," he said, "it's like setting an old horse against a mettlesome 
young one. That new fellow has got every advantage. Look at his shop, 
then look at mine; why, his is twice as big again. Look at his front--
all plate glass; look at his counters--all polished oak!" 

"Well, and can't you get the shop--our shop--done up too?" ambitiously 
asked Mary. "There's time yet." 

"Why yes, there is--but the money, Mary dear!" 

"Never mind the money." 

"No more I would, my pet, if I had got it; but you see, the one pound ten 
a week hasn't kept up; and those things cost a precious deal." 

Mary reflected a while. "S'pose," she suggested, "you got in a fresh 
stock of jams in glass jars, for the front window." 

"And what shall we do with the old?" 

"Eat them. And s'pose you add a few pots of pickles?" 

"Pickles!" echoed Jones, looking doubtful. 

"And s'pose," continued Mary, "you add macaroni, and sauces, and set up 
as a superior grocer." 

Jones scratched his head. 

"Law, child!" he said, "this aint a stylish neighbourhood--and who'll 
buy my macaroni and my sauces?" 

"Why no one, of course," superciliously replied Mary. "It's not to sell 
them, you want them; it's for the look of the thing--to be a superior 
grocer, you know." 

The words "superior grocer," gently tickled secret ambition. Mr. Richard 
Jones seriously promised his daughter to think about it. 

Mary had other thoughts, which she did not communicate to her father; and 
of these thoughts, the chief was to find out what had become of Mr. 
Saunders, and return to the old plan of enticing him into partnership. 
She was so full of this project, that, partly to get assistance, partly 
to take a little consequence on herself, she imparted it, under the 
strictest secrecy, to Rachel Gray; and at the close, she pretty clearly 
hinted, that if Mr. Joseph Saunders behaved well, he might, in time, 
aspire to the honour of her hand. 

Rachel heard her silently, and looked very uncomfortable. 

"My dear," she said, hesitatingly, "you must not think of anything of the 
kind; indeed you must not." 

"And why shouldn't I?" tartly asked Mary, with a saucy toss of the head. 

"Because, my dear," said Rachel, gently and sadly, "Jane is going to 
marry that Mr. Saunders, who ifs cousin to Mr. Smithson, who is putting 
him in the new grocer's shop." 

For a moment, Mary remained stunned; then she burst into tears. 

"He's a mean, sneaking fellow! that's what he is!" she cried. 

"Oh, my dear--my dear!" gently said Rachel, "will you not take something 
from the hand of God! We have all our lot to bear," she added, with a 
half sigh. 

But gently though Rachel spoke, Mary looked more rebellious than 
submissive. 

"He's a mean--" she began again; the entrance of Mrs. Brown interrupted 
her. 

Mrs. Brown was in a very ill humour. At first, she had behaved pretty 
decently to Rachel and her father; but of late, she had given free vent 
to her natural disposition; and it was not, we have no need to say, an 
amiable one. On the present occasion, she had, moreover, additional cause 
for dissatisfaction. 

"And so," she exclaimed, slamming the door, and irefully addressing 
Rachel, "and so your beggarly father has been and broke my china cup! Eh, 
ma'am!" 

Rachel turned pale, on hearing of this new disaster. 

"Indeed, Mrs. Brown--" she began.

"Don't Mrs. Brown me," was the indignant rejoinder. "I tell you, I have 
never had a moment's peace, ease, and quiet, and never shall have--since 
you and your beggarly father entered this house." 

For, by a strange perversion of ideas, Mrs. Brown persisted in asserting 
and thinking that it was Rachel and her father who had entered the house, 
and not she. And this, Rachel might have said; and she might have added 
that to bear daily reproaches and insults, formed no part of her 
agreement with Mrs. Brown. She might--but where would the use have been? 
She was free to depart any day she liked; and since she preferred to 
stay, why not bear it all patiently? And so she remained silent, whilst 
Mrs. Brown scolded and railed; for, as she had said to Mary, "we have all 
our lot to bear." 

The lesson was lost on the young girl. No sooner was Mrs. Brown's back 
turned, than again Mary abused Mr. Saunders, Jane, Mr. Smithson and the 
new shop collectively, until she could go home to her father's. He 
already knew all, and gloomily exclaimed, "that it was no more than he 
expected; that it was all of a piece; and that there was neither honesty, 
gratitude, nor goodness left in this wicked world." 

From which comprehensive remark we can clearly see that Mr. Jones is 
turning misanthropic. And yet the matter was very simple--an everyday 
occurrence. Smithson had seen that he might find it profitable to cut the 
ground under Jones's feet. Why should he not do it? Is not profit the 
abject of commerce? and is not competition the fairest way of securing 
profit? 


CHAPTER XVI. 


The reader may easily imagine Jane and Joseph Saunders married. It was an 
old engagement Imagine them, too, retained from their wedding tour to 
Gravesend. It is evening; and on the next morning, "The two Teapots" is 
to open. 

Richard Jones spent a sleepless night, and took down his shutters as soon 
as a gray, dull light entered the street. It availed little; only a dirty 
child came in for a pennyworth of brown sugar. It was half-past eight 
when Saunders opened his shop; and just about that time a chill, 
drizzling rain began to fall. 

The morning was miserable, and only a few wretched figures flitted about 
the wet street. No one entered the "Teapot;" but then not a soul either 
crossed the threshold of the rival shop. 

And thus the dull morning wore on until the church clock struck ten. A 
sprinkling of customers then entered the shop of Richard Jones. They were 
one and all mightily indignant at the impudence of the opposite shop in 
coming there--a lady in a large, black, shabby straw bonnet in 
particular. 

"Ay, ay, you may flare away--you may flare away," she added, knowingly 
wagging her head at it, "you'll have none of my custom, I can tell you. 
An ounce of your four shilling best, Mr. Jones, if you please?" 

"Coming, ma'am, di-rectly," was the prompt reply. . 

"I never heard anythink like it--never," observed another lady, with 
solemn indignation. "Did the low fellow think we wanted his shop!" 

An indignant "no," was chorused around. 

Richard Jones's heart swelled, and his throat too. He was much moved. 

"Gentlemen," he began, "no, ladies, I mean--ladies, I have always done 
my duty since I was a boy, and, with the help of God, I mean to do my 
duty till I die." Pause and approving murmur. "And, ladies, I am no 
speech-maker--all I say is this: God forgive that villain opposite! You 
know the story. I'll not trouble you with repeating it. All I say is 
this: ladies, if my customers'll stand by me, I'll stand by my customers 
--I'll stand by my customers!" he repeated, looking round the shop with a 
triumphant eye, and giving the counter a hearty thump with his fist; and, 
poor fellow, you may be sure that he did mean to stand by his customers. 

The oration proved very successful; altogether, the day was successful. 
The two Teapots remained vacant; the Teapot was thronged. All Jones's 
liege subjects were anxious to prove their loyalty; and though, when the 
gas was lit, Jones could discern a few dark figures within his rival's 
shop, Jones did not care. He felt certain they were but some of the low 
creatures from the alley, and be did not care. 

The second day resembled the first, and the third resembled the second. 
Jones felt quite satisfied "that it was all right," until he cast up his 
accounts at the end of the week. To his surprise, he found that his 
expenditure was barely covered, and that, somehow or other, his gains had 
considerably lessened. He reckoned over and over, and still he came to 
the same result. "Well, 'taint of much consequence for one week," he 
thought, a little impatiently, and he put the books by. 

"What's the matter, father?" asked Mary, looking up into his overcast 
face. 

"What's the matter!" he echoed cheerfully; "why, the matter is, that you 
are a saucy puss--that's what's the matter," and he chucked her chin, 
and Mary laughed. 

But the next week's examination revealed a still deeper gap. Jones 
scratched his head, and pulled a long face. It was not that he minded the 
loss, for it was a trifling one after all; but be had a secret dread, and 
it stood in the background of his thoughts, like a ghost in a dark room, 
haunting him. Could it be--was it possible--that his customers were 
playing him false--that they were deserting him--and he began to think 
and think, and to remember, how many pennyworths of this, and of that, he 
had sold to the children, and how few shillings worth he had sold to the 
mothers. 

"Well, father, and how's this week?" asked Mary. 

Jones rubbed his chin, and looked at her fairly perplexed--his wit was 
none of the brightest--as to how he might best elude the question. 

"How's this week," he echoed; "well, this week is like last week to be 
sure. I wonder how that fellow Saunders is a getting on." 

"Law! father, don't mind him," said Mary. "He's low, that's what he is--
he's low." 

Impossible for us to translate the scorn with which Miss Mary Jones 
spoke. It impressed her father. "Spirited little thing," he thought, and 
he drew her fondly towards him, and kissed her, and Mary fortunately 
forgot her question. 

Week after week passed, and what had been a speck on the horizon, became 
a dark and threatening cloud. Richard Jones could not shut his eyes to 
the truth that his customers were deserting him. Even Mary perceived it, 
and spoke uneasily on the subject, of which her father at once made 
light. 

"It's business, child," he said, "and business is all ups and downs; I 
have had the ups, and the downs I must have." Spite this philosophic 
reflection, Mr. Jones could not help thinking he had rather more than his 
share of the downs. He was embittered, too, by daily perceiving the 
defection of some staunch customer. That lady in the large, shabby, black 
straw bonnet, who had so spiritedly told "The two Teapots" to flare away 
on the day of its opening, was one of the first who forsook the "Teapot" 
for its rival. Many followed her perfidious example; but Mr. Jones did 
not feel fairly cut up, until he one evening distinctly saw Rachel Gray 
walk out of the opposite shop. The stab of Brutus was nothing to Caesar 
in comparison with this blow to Richard Jones. 

And he was thinking it over the next morning, and stood behind his 
counter breaking sugar rather gloomily, when Rachel herself appeared. Mr. 
Jones received her very coldly. 

She asked for a pound of sugar. 

"And no tea?" he said, pointedly. 

"None to-day," quietly replied Rachel; but she saw that he knew all, and 
she was too sincere to feign ignorance. "Mr. Jones," she said, somewhat 
sadly, "I must go where I am told, and do as I am bid; but, indeed, why 
do you not keep better tea?" 

"Better tea! better tea!" echoed Mr. Jones, in some indignation. 

"Yes," quietly said Rachel, "better tea." 

Mr. Jones smiled an injured smile, and rather sarcastically replied: 

"Miss Gray, if you prefer that feller's tea to mine, you're welcome to 
leave your money to him, and not to me. 'Tain't because my daughter is 
prenticed to you that I expect nothink from you, Miss. All I say is this: 
don't go there at night, Miss Gray, and buy your tea, and then come here 
in the morning and buy your sugar. That's not giving a man your custom, 
you know it ain't. Don't do it; no offence meant, but I'm like you, Miss 
Gray, plain spoken, you see." 

And he resumed the breaking of his sugar. 

"I prefer!" sadly said Rachel, "when you know, Mr. Jones, that I am no 
one now, but must go by the will of another--indeed, you wrong me!" 

Jones knew he did; but misfortune makes men wilfully unjust. 

"Don't mention it," he interrupted, "ladies like new faces, and he's a 
young fellow, and I am an old one, and so there's an end of it." 

Poor Rachel looked much pained. To be blamed by every one seemed her lot. 

"Indeed, Mr. Jones," she said, "I must do as Mrs. Brown bids me, and she 
says your four shilling black is not equal to his four, and, indeed, Mr. 
Jones, I am sorry to say, that others say so too." 

Mr. Jones did not reply one word; he fell into a brown study; at the 
close of it he sighed, and looking up, said earnestly: 

"Miss Gray, let me have some of that tea, will you? and I'll see myself 
what it's like." 

"Of course you will," said Rachel, brightening, "you shall have it 
directly--directly, Mr. Jones."

And without loss of time she hastened home, and almost immediately 
appeared again, bringing him the tea herself, and earnestly declaring 
that she was sure he had only to taste it, to set all right, to which 
Jones answered not a word, but rather gloomily thanked her for the 
trouble she had taken. When he was once more alone, he smelt the tea, 
shook his head and frowned; then he put it away until evening came round, 
when he gave it to Mary, and without further explanation, simply told her 
that was the tea they were going to have this evening. Unconscious Mary 
made the tea. 

"La! Father," she exclaimed, as she poured the boiling water upon it, 
"what beautiful tea you've got; it's quite fragrant." 

"Is it?" he echoed, faintly, 

"Why, of course it is," she said, pettishly, "I am sure that fellow 
opposite ain't got nothink like it." 

Richard Jones leaned his brow on his hand, and checked a groan. But when 
the tea was drawn, when it was poured out, when he raised the cup to his 
lips and tasted it, the man's courage forsook him; he put down the cup, 
and cried like a child. 

"Father! father!" exclaimed Mary, frightened and bewildered. 

"Oh! my darling!" he cried, "we're ruined--we're lost!--that tea is 
Joseph Saunders's tea; and he gives it for four shillings, and it's 
better than my five. And I can't give it, nor I can't get it neither," he 
added, despairingly; "for I have not got credit, and little cash; and I 
buy dear, and dear I must sell, or starve!" 

Of this speech, all Mary understood, was that the tea she had been making 
was tea from Mr. Saunders's shop. She deliberately rose, poured the 
contents of the teapot on the ashes in the hearth; the contents of her 
own teacup, then of her father's quickly followed; then she sat down, 
folded her arms, and uttered a grim: "There! I only wish I could serve 
him so," she added after a pause. 

But what Mary meant by this wish--to pour out Joseph Saunders like his 
own tea, seems rather a fantastic image, even for hate--the present 
writer does not venture to determine. 

"It's all over!" sadly said Jones; "we can't compete with him. I'll shut 
up shop, and we'll go to some other neighbourhood, and live in our old 
way. After all, I'll not be a richer nor a poorer man than before my 
cousin left me the sixty pound."

"You ain't got no spirit!" cried Mary, turning scarlet with anger. "Give 
in to that fellow!--I'd have more spirit than that," she added with 
mighty scorn. 

Her father attempted to remonstrate; but the wilful little thing would 
not listen to facts or to reason. She was sure Saunders could not keep up 
much longer--that she was. They had only to wait, and wear him out. 

Alas! it is very hard to tear out ambition and pride from the heart of 
man, rich or poor. In an evil hour, Richard Jones yielded. 


CHAPTER XVII. 


And now, alas! fairly began the Teapot's downward course. Every effort of 
Richard Jones to rise, only made him sink the deeper. To use a worn out, 
though expressive phrase, he stirred heaven and earth to get better tea; 
but the spell to conjure it forth was wanting. Jones had very correctly 
stated the case to his daughter--he had not credit; he had little or no 
cash; what he purchased in small quantities, he bought dear; and he sold 
as he bought. And thus, unable to compete with superior, capital and 
energy, he declined day by day. 

But if he fell, it was not without a struggle. He turned desperate, and 
resorted to a desperate expedient; he sold his goods at prime cost, and 
left himself without profit. But Jones did not care; all he wanted was to 
crush his opponent--that object accomplished, and he once more sole 
master of the field, he could make his own price, and gradually retrieve 
lost time, and heal the wounds received in the battle. 

Business requires a cool head; competition has its limits, beyond which 
yawns the bottomless pit of ruin. Jones lost his temper, and with it his 
judgment. Not satisfied with the faint change for the better, produced by 
the first measure, he impatiently resolved "to settle that Saunders," by 
a second and still bolder stroke. He filled his shop-windows with 
placards, on which prices were marked, with notes of admiration. He 
pressed into his service a dozen of little boys, whose sole business was 
to slip bills under doors, and to throw them down areas, or to force them 
into the hands of unconscious passengers; and he crowned an these arts by 
selling under prime cost.

The customers could not resist this tender appeal to their feelings; they 
came back one and all--the Teapot once more was full--the two Teapots 
was deserted; and Richard Jones was triumphant. 

We profess no particular regard for Joseph Saunders; but we cannot deny 
that he played his cruel game skilfully and well. He did not bring down 
his prices one farthing. Without emotion he saw his shop forsaken--he 
knew his own strength; he knew, too, the weakness of his enemy. 

"Oh! It's that dodge you are after," he thought, thrusting his tongue in 
his cheek. "Well, then, it has beggared many a man before you; and we 
shall see how long you'll keep it up--that's all." 

And to whosoever liked to hear, Saunders declared that Mr. Jones was 
selling at loss, and that he (Saunders) could not afford to do so; and 
was sorry the old man would be so obstinate. "Where was the use, when he 
could not go on?" 

Nothing did Jones more harm than this assertion, and the knowledge that 
it was a literal truth; for though people worship cheapness, that goddess 
of modern commerce, it is only on condition that she shall be a reality, 
not a fiction; that she shall rest on the solid basis of gains, howsoever 
small; not on the sand foundation of loss, that certain forerunner of 
failure. Jones could not, of course, long keep up the plan of selling 
under cost; he was obliged to give it up. With it, ceased his fallacious 
and momentary prosperity. 

"I thought so," soliloquized Saunders. 

Reader, if you think that we mean to cast a stone at the great shop, you 
are mistaken. We deal not with pitiless political economy, with its laws, 
with their workings. The great shop must prosper; 'tis in the nature of 
things; and the little shop must perish--'tis in their nature too. We 
but lament this sad truth, that on God's earth, which God made for all, 
there should be so little room for the poor man; for his pride, his 
ambition, his desires, which he has in common with the rich man; we but 
deplore what all, alas! know too well; that the crown of creation, a 
soul, a man by God's Almighty mind, fashioned and called forth into 
being, by Christ's priceless blood purchased and redeemed to Heaven, 
should be a thing of so little worth--ay, so much, so very much less 
worth than some money, in this strange world of ours. 

Few pitied Richard Jones in his fall. His little ambition was remembered 
as a crime; for success had not crowned it. His little vanities were so 
many deadly sins; for gold did not hide or excuse them. To the dregs, the 
unhappy man drank the latter draught which rises to the lips of the 
fallen, when they see the world deserting them to worship a rival. A 
usurper had invaded his narrow realm, and crushed him; his little story 
was a true page from that great book of History, which we need not read 
to know how power decays, or to learn of man's fickleness, and fortune's 
frowns. Alas! History, if we did but know it, lies around us, as mankind 
lives in the meanest wretch we meet, and perchance despise. 

It is a bitter thing to behold our own ruin; it is a cruel thing to look 
on powerless and despairing; and both now fell to the lot of Richard 
Jones. He had ventured all, and lost all. He was doomed--he knew it; 
every one knew it. But, alas! the cup of his woes was not full. 

Mary had always been delicate. One chill evening she took cold; a cough 
settled on her chest; sometimes it seemed gone, then suddenly it returned 
again. "She felt very well," she said; and, strange to say, her father 
thought so too. Rachel was the first to see that something was wrong. 

"Mary," she said to her, one morning, "what ails you? Your breath seems 
quite short." 

"La! bless you, Miss," replied Mary, in her patronizing way, "I am all 
right." 

They were alone; Rachel looked at the young girl; her eyes glittered; her 
cheeks were red with a hectic flush; her breathing was quick and 
oppressive. The eyes of Rachel filled with tears; she thought of her 
little dead sister in her grave. 

"Mary," she said, "do not work any more to-day--go home." 

Mary looked up in her face, and laughed--the gay laugh of an unconscious 
child, fearless of death. 

"Why, Miss, you are crying!" she exclaimed, amazed. 

"Am I?" said Rachel, trying to smile, "never mind, Mary; go home--or, 
rather, take this parcel to Mrs. Jameson, number three, Albert Terrace. 
It is a fine day--the walk will do you good." 

Mary jumped up, charmed at the prospect. She tied her bonnet-strings 
before the looking-glass, and hummed the tune of "Meet me by moonlight 
alone." Mary was turned sixteen; and vague ideas of romance sometimes 
fitted through her young brain. 

When she was fairly gone, Rachel rose, laid her work by, put on her 
bonnet and shawl, and quietly slipped round to the Teapot: ostensibly, 
she wanted to buy some tea: her real purpose was to call the attention of 
Mr. Jones to his daughter's state. 

But, strange to say, Rachel Gray could not make him understand her; his 
mind was full of the two Teapots; of the villany of that Saunders; of the 
world's ingratitude; of his misfortunes and his wrongs. 

"I dare say Mary feels it too," put in Rachel. 

"Of course she does, Miss Gray--of course she does. The child has 
feelings. And then you know, Miss Gray, if that fellow hadn't a come 
there, why, you know, we were getting on as well as could be." 

"I notice that she coughs," said Rachel 

"Why, yes, poor child; she can't get rid of that cough--she's growing, 
you see. And then, you see, that Saunders--" 

"And her breathing is so short," interrupted Rachel. 

"Sure to be, on account of the cough. And, as I was saying, that  
Saunders--" 

"But, Mr. Jones, don't you think you had better see a doctor?" again 
interrupted Rachel.

"See a doctor!" exclaimed Jones, staring at her. "You don't mean to say 
my child is ill, Miss Gray?" 

"I don't think she is quite well, Mr. Jones," replied Rachel, trembling 
as she said so. 

He sank down on his seat behind the counter, pale as death. The obstinate 
cough, the short breathing, the hectic flush, all rushed back to his 
memory; unseen, unheeded, till then, they now told him one fearful story. 
With trembling hand he wiped away the drops of cold perspiration from his 
forehead. 

"The doctor must see her directly," he said, "directly. I'll go and look 
for him, and you'll send her round. It's nothing--nothing at all, I am 
sure; she's growing, you see. But still, it must be attended to, you know 
--it must be attended to."

A light laugh at the door interrupted him. He turned round, and saw Mary 
looking in at him and Rachel Gray, through the glass windows; with 
another laugh, she vanished. Rachel went to the door, and called her 
back. 

"Mary, Mary, your father wants you." 

The young girl came in; and, for the first time, her father seemed to see 
the bright red spot that burned on her cheek, the unnatural brilliancy of 
her blue eyes, the painful shortness of her breath. A mist seemed to fall 
from his eyes, and the dread truth to stand revealed before him; but he 
did not speak, nor did Rachel; Mary looked at them both, wondering. 

"Well, what ails you two, that you stare at me so," she said, pertly. "I 
am so hot," she added, after a while. "I think I shall stay at home, as 
you said. Miss Gray." 

She went into the back parlour, and sat down on the first chair she found 
at hand. Rachel Gray and her father followed her in. The poor child, who, 
because she had felt no actual pain, had thought that she could not be 
ill, now, for the first time, felt that she was so. 

"What ails you, dear?" softly asked Rachel, bending over her, as she saw 
her gradually turning pale. 

"La! bless you. Miss Gray, I am quite well--only I feel so faint like." 

And even as she spoke, her head sank on the bosom of Rachel--she had 
fainted. 

When Mary recovered to consciousness, she was lying on her bed, up 
stairs. Rachel stood by her pillow. At the foot of her bed, Mary caught 
sight of her father's face, ghastly pale. Between the two, she saw a 
strange gentleman, a doctor, who felt her pulse, put a few questions to 
her, wrote a prescription, and soon left. 

"I must go now," said Rachel, "but I shall come back this evening, and 
bring my work." 

Jones did not heed her; he looked stupified and like one bereft of sense, 
but Mary laughed and replied, "Oh! do Miss Gray, come and take tea with 
us." 

Rachel promised that she would try, kissed her and left. With great 
difficulty she obtained from Mrs. Brown the permission to return. 

They on whom the light of this world shone not, were rarely in the favour 
of Mrs. Brown. And only on condition of being home early did she allow 
Rachel to depart. Before leaving, she went up to her other's chair, he 
was not now quite so helpless as at first, and did not require her 
constant presence or assistance; though he still did not know her. 

"I shall try and not be too long away," said Rachel in a low voice. 

"Never mind," he muttered, shaking his head, "never mind." 

"There's a precious old fool for you!" said Mrs. Brown laughing coarsely. 

A flush of pain crossed Rachel's cheek, but to have replied, would have 
been to draw down a storm on her head; she silently left the house. 

She found Mary feverish, restless, and full of projects. She would get up 
early the next day, and make up for lost time. She remembered all the 
work she had to do, and which she had unaccountably neglected. Her 
father's shirts to mend, her own wardrobe to see to; the next room to 
clean up, for a second lodger had never been found; in short, to hear 
her, it seemed as if her life had only begun, and that this was the day 
of its opening. In vain Rachel tried to check her soothingly; Mary talked 
on and was so animated and so merry, that her father, who came up every 
five minutes to see how she was, could not believe her to be so very ill 
as Miss Gray thought, or the Doctor had hinted. Indeed, when at nine 
Rachel left, and he let her down stairs, he seemed quite relieved. 

"The child's only growing," he said to Rachel, "only growing; a little 
rest and a little medicine, and she'll be all right again." 

But scarcely was Rachel out of the door, when she burst into tears. "My 
poor little Mary," she thought, "my poor little Mary!" 


CHAPTER XVIII. 


It was rather late when Rachel knocked timidly at the door, Mrs. Brown 
opened to her, and there was a storm on her brow. 

"Well, ma'am," she began; "well, ma'am!" 

"Oh! pray do not--do not!" imploringly exclaimed Rachel, clasping her 
hands. 

For her excessive patience had of late rendered Mrs. Brown's violent 
temper wholly ungovernable. Irritated by the very meekness which met her 
wrath, she had, with the instinct of aggression, found the only 
vulnerable point of Rachel--her father. This was, indeed, the heel of 
Achilles. All the shafts of the enemy's railing that fell harmless on the 
childish old man, rebounded on his daughter with double force: deep and 
keen they sank in her hearty and every one inflicted its wound. And thus 
it was that Rachel had learned to look with terror to Mrs. Brown's wrath 
--that she now shrank from it with fear and trembling, and implored for 
mercy. 

But there is no arguing with ill-temper. Mrs. Brown would neither give 
mercy, nor hear reason. Had she not lent twenty pound three and six to 
Rachel? Was not Rachel beholden to her for food, shelter, chemist's bill, 
and physician's fees? and should not, therefore, her will be Rachel's 
law, and her pleasure be Rachel's pleasure? 

Poor Rachel, her patience was great, but now she felt as if it must fail; 
as if she could not, even for the sake of a roof's shelter, endure more 
from one to whom no tie of love or regard bound her--nothing but the 
burdening sense of an obligation which she had not sought, and for which 
she had already paid so dearly. She clasped her thin hands--she looked 
with her mild brown eyes in the face of her tormentor, and her lips 
quivered with the intensity of the feelings that moved her to reply, and 
repel insult and contumely, and with the strength of will that kept her 
silent. 

At length, Mrs. Brown grew tired, for her ill-temper had this quality--
it was vehement, not slow and irritating, the infliction ceased--Rachel 
remained alone. 

Mrs. Brown had taken possession of the room that had once been Rachel's. 
Thomas Gray slept in the back parlour; and in order to remain within 
reach of aid, Rachel slept on the floor of the front room. In this room 
it was that Mrs. Brown had left her. Softly Rachel went and opened the 
door of her father's room; it was dark and quiet; but in its stillness, 
she heard his regular breathing--he slept, and little, did he know how 
much that calm sleep of his cost his daughter. She closed the door, and 
sat down in her own room; but she thought not of sleep; the tempter was 
with her in that hour. Her heart was full of bitterness--full even to 
overflowing. On a dark and dreary sea, her lot seemed cast; she saw not 
the guiding star of faith over her head. She saw not before her the haven 
of blessed peace. 

The words "Thy will be done," fell from her lips; they were not in her 
heart. Nothing was there, nothing but wounded pride, resentment, and the 
sense of unmerited wrong. 

In vain, thinking of her tyrant, Rachel said to herself, "I forgive that 
woman--I forgive her freely." She felt that she did not; that anger 
against this pitiless tormentor of her life smouldered in her heart like 
the red coal living beneath pale ashes; and Rachel was startled, and 
justly, to feel that so strange and unusual an emotion, anger against 
another, had found place in her bosom, and that though she bade it go, it 
stayed, and would not depart. 

To be gentle is not to be passionless. The spirit of Rachel had been 
early subdued, too much subdued for her happiness; but it was too noble 
ever to have been quenched. It still burned within her, a flame pure and 
free, though invisible. But now, alas! the vapours of earthly passion 
dimmed its brightness: and it was darkened with human wrath. 

Through such moments of temptation and trial all have passed; and then it 
is, indeed, when we are not blinded by pride, that we feel our miserable 
weakness, a weakness for which there is but one remedy, but then it is a 
divine one--the strength of God. 

That strength Rachel now invoked. _De Profundis_, from the depths of her 
sorrow she cried out to the Lord, not that her burden might grow less, 
but that her strength to bear it, to endure and forgive, might increase 
eyen with it And strength was granted unto her. It came, not at once, not 
like the living waters that flowed from the arid rock, when the prophet 
spoke, but slowly, like the heavenly manna that fell softly in the 
silence of the night, and was gathered ere the sun rose above the desert. 

Rachel felt--oh, pure and blessed feeling!--that her heart was free 
from bitterness and gall; that she could forgive the offender, to seventy 
times seven; that she could pray for her--not with the lip-prayer of the 
self-righteous Pharisee, but with the heartfelt orisons of the poor, 
sinning, and penitent publican; and again and again, and until the tears 
flowed down her cheek, she blessed God, the sole Giver of so mighty and 
superhuman a grace.

And well it was for Rachel Gray, that she forgave her enemy that night. 
Well it was, indeed, that the next sun beheld not her wrath. Before that 
sun rose, the poor, erring woman had given in her account of every deed, 
and every word uttered in the heat of anger:--Mrs. Brown had gone to her 
room strong and well. She was found dead and cold in her bed the next 
morning. 

A coroner's inquest was held, and a verdict of "sudden death" recorded. 
And a will, too, was found in a tea-caddy, by which Mrs. Brown formally 
bequeathed all her property to Rachel Gray, "as a proof," said the will, 
"of her admiration and respect." 

On hearing the words, Rachel burst into tears. 

"Thank God! That I forgave her!" she exclaimed, "thank God!" 

Well indeed might she thank the Divine bestower of all forgiveness. The 
legacy was not after all a large one. Mrs. Brown's annuity died with her; 
she left little more money than buried her decently; the ground lease of 
the house in which she had originally resided was almost out, and the 
bequest was in reality limited to the present abode of Rachel; but 
invaluable to her indeed, was the shelter of that humble home, now her 
own for ever. 

And when all was over; when the grave had closed on one, who not being at 
peace herself, could not give peace to others, when Rachel and her father 
remained alone in the little house, now hushed and silenced from all rude 
and jarring sounds, safe from all tyrannical interference, Rachel felt, 
with secret thankfulness, that if her lot was not happy, according to 
human weakness, it was blest with peace and quiet, and all the good that 
from them spring. If a cloud still lingered over it, it was only because, 
looking at her father, she remembered the unfulfilled desire of her 
heart; and if on days otherwise now marked with peace, there sometimes 
fell the darkness of a passing shadow, it was only when she saw and felt 
too keenly the sorrows of others. 


CHAPTER XIX. 


Richard Jones still hoped: "Mary was so young!" He would hope. But it was 
not to be; he had but tasted the cup of his sorrows; to the dregs was he 
to drink it; the earthly idol on which he had set his heart was to be 
snatched from him; he was to waken one day to the bitter knowledge: 
"there is no hope!" 

How he felt we know not, and cannot tell: none have a right to describe 
that grief save they who have passed through it; we dare not unveil the 
father's heart: we deal but with the external aspect of things, and sad 
and bitter enough it was. 

In a silent shop, where the sugar seemed to shrink away in the casks, 
where the tea-chests looked hollow, where dust gathered on the counter, 
on the shelves, in the corners, everywhere; where all looked blasted and 
withered by the deadly upas tree opposite, you might have seen a haggard 
man who stood there day after day, waiting for customers that came not, 
and who from behind his shop windows drearily watched the opposite shop, 
always full; thriving, fattening on his ruin; or who, sadder sight to his 
eyes and heart, looked at the little back parlour, where on her sick bed 
his dying daughter lay. 

Mary, as her illness drew towards its close, became fanciful, she 
insisted on having her bed brought down to the back parlour, and would 
leave her door open, "in order to mind the shop," she said. If anything 
could hasten her father's ruin, this did it: the few customers whom he 
had left, gradually dropped off, scared away by that sick girl, looking 
at them with her eager, glittering eyes. 

He sat by her one evening in a sad and very bitter mood. She was ill, 
very ill, and for three days not a soul had crossed the threshold of his 
shop. His love and his ambition were passing away together from his life. 

"Father," querulously said Mary, "why did you shut the shop so early?" 
For since her illness the young girl's mind was always running on the 
shop. 

"Where's the use of leaving it open?" huskily answered Jones, "unless 
it's to see them all going to the two Teapots opposite." 

"Well, but I wish you had not," she resumed, "it looks so dull and so 
dark." 

It is very likely that to please her, Richard Jones would have gone and 
taken the shutters down; but for a knock at the private door. 

"There's Miss Gray," said Mary, her face lighting. 

Richard Jones went and opened it; it was Rachel Gray. The light of the 
candle which he held fell full on his face; Rachel was struck with its 
haggard expression. 

"You do not look well, Mr. Jones," she said. 

"Don't I, Miss Gray," he replied, with a dreary smile, "well, that's a 
wonder! Look here!" he added, leading her into the shop where his tallow 
candle shed but a dim, dull light, "look here," he continued, raising it 
high, and turning it round so that it cast its faint gleam over the whole 
place, "look here; there's a shop for you, Miss Gray. How long ago is it 
since you, and your mother, and Mary and I we settled that shop? Look at 
it now, I say--look at it now. Look here!" and he thrust the light down 
a cask, "empty! Look there!" and he raised the lid of a tea-chest, 
"empty! Do you wish to try the drawers? Oh! they are all labelled, but 
what's in 'em. Miss Gray? nothing! It's well the customers have left off 
coming; for I couldn't serve them; couldn't accommodate them, I am sorry 
to say," and he laughed very bitterly. "I was happy when I came here," he 
resumed, "I had hope; I thought there was an opening; I thought there was 
room for me. I set up this shop; I did it all up myself, as you know--
every inch of it; I painted it; I put the fixtures in; I drove every nail 
in with my own hand, and what's been the upshot of it all, Miss Gray?" 

Rachel raised her soft brown eyes to his: 

"It is the will of God," she said, "and God knows best, for He is good."

Richard Jones looked at her and smiled almost sternly, for suffering 
gives dignity to the meanest, and no man, when he feels deeply, is the 
same man as when his feelings are unstirred. 

"Miss Gray," he said, "I have worked from my youth--slaved some would 
say; I hoped to make out something for myself and my child, and it was 
more of her than of myself I thought I wronged none; I did my best; a 
rich man steps in, and I am bewared--and you tell me God is good--mind, 
I don't say he aint--but is he good to me?" 

Rachel Gray shook with nervous emotion from head to foot She was pained--
she was distressed at the question. Still more distressed because her 
mind was so bewildered, because her ideas were in such strange tumult, 
that with the most ardent wish to speak, she could not. As when in a 
dream we struggle to move and cannot, our will being fettered by the 
slumber of the body, so Rachel felt then, so alas! for her torment she 
felt almost always; conscious of truths sublime, beautiful and consoling, 
but unable to express them in speech. 

"God is good," she said again, clinging to that truth as to her anchor of 
safety. 

Again Richard Jones smiled. 

"And my child, Miss Gray," he said, lowering his voice so that his words 
could not reach the next room, "going by inches before my very eyes; yet 
I must look on and not go mad. I must be beggared, and I must bear it; I 
must become childless, and I must bear it. And the wicked thrive, and the 
wicked's children outlive them, for God is good to them, Miss Gray." 

The eyes of Rachel filled with tears; her brow became clouded. 

"Ah! Mr. Jones," she said, "do not complain; you have loved your child." 

"What are you keeping Miss Gray there for?" pettishly said the voice of 
Mary, "I want her." 

"And here I am, dear," said Rachel, going in to her, "I am come to sit a 
while with you; for I am sure your poor father wants rest, does he not?" 

"I don't want any one to sit with me," impatiently replied Mary, "I am 
not so ill as all that." 

"But do you sleep at night?"

"No, I can't--I am so feverish." 

"Well, then, we sit up with you to keep you company," said her father. 

This explanation apparently satisfied Mary, who began to talk of other 
things. She knew not she was dying; whence should the knowledge have come 
to a mere child like her. None had told her the truth. And she was 
passing away into eternity, unconscious--her heart, her thoughts, her 
soul full of the shadows of life. 

Rachel saw and knew it, and it grieved her. She remembered her little 
sister's happy and smiling death-bed, and from her heart she prayed that 
a similar blessing might crown the last hours of little Mary; that she 
might go to her God like a child to her father. 

And when Richard Jones, after sitting up with them until twelve, went 
upstairs to rest awhile, and Rachel heard Mary talk of her recovery, and 
of projects and hopes, vain to her as a dream, she could not help feeling 
that it was her duty to speak. They were alone, "yes, now," thought 
Rachel, "now is the time to speak." 

Oh! hard and bitter task: to tell the young of death; the hoping that 
they must not hope; to tell those who would so fondly delay and linger in 
this valley, that they must depart for the land that is so near, and that 
seems so far. Rachel knew not how to begin. Mary opened the subject. 

"I shall be glad when I am well again," she said, "I am tired of this 
little room; it seems so dull when I see the sun shine in the street, 
don't it, Miss Gray?" 

"I dare say it does: you remind me of a little story I once read; shall I 
tell it to you?" 

"Oh! yes you may," carelessly replied Mary, yawning slightly; she thought 
Miss Gray prosy at times. 

"It is not a long story," said Rachel timidly, "and here it is; a king 
was once hunting alone in a wood, when he heard a very beautiful voice 
singing very sweetly; he went on and saw a poor leper." 

"What's a leper?" interrupted Mary. 

"Don't you remember the lepers in the Gospel, who were made clean by our 
Saviour? they were poor things, who had a bad and loathsome complaint, 
and this man, whom the king heard singing, was one; and the king could 
not help saying to him, 'how can you sing when you seem in so wretched a 
condition?' But the leper replied, 'it is because I am in this state that 
I sing, for as my body decays, I know that the hour of my deliverance 
draws nigh, that I shall leave this miserable world, and go to my Lord 
and my God.'"

Mary looked at Rachel surprised at the impressive and earnest tone with 
which she spoke. 

"Well but, Miss Gray," she said, at length, "what is there like me in 
this story; I am not a leper, am I?" 

"We are all lepers," gently said Rachel, "for we are all sinners, and sin 
is to the soul what leprosy is to the body; it defiles it, and we all 
should be glad to die; for Christ has conquered death, and with death sin 
ends, and our true life, the life in God begins." 

Mary raised herself on one elbow. She looked at Rachel fixedly, 
earnestly; "Miss Gray," she said; "what do you mean?" 

Rachel did not reply--she could not. 

"Why do you tell me all these things?" continued Mary. 

And still Rachel could not speak. 

"Miss Gray," said Mary, "am _I_ going to die?" She looked wistfully in 
Rachel's face, and the beseeching tone of her young childish voice seemed 
to pierce Rachel's heart; but she had began; could not, she dared not go 
back. She rose, she clasped her hands, she trembled from head to foot, 
tears streamed down her cheek; her voice faltered so that she could 
scarcely speak, but she mastered it, clear and distinct the words came 
out. "Mary, we must all obey the will of God; we came into this world at 
His will, at His will we must leave it." 

"And must I leave it, Miss Gray?" asked Mary, persisting in her 
questioning like a child. 

Rachel stooped over her; the fast tears poured from her face on Mary's 
pale brow, "yes, my darling," she said softly, "yes, you must leave this 
miserable earth of trouble and sorrow, and go to God your friend and your 
father." 

The weakest, the frailest creatures often rise to heroic courage. This 
fretful, pettish child heard her sentence with some wonder, but 
apparently without sorrow. 

"Don't cry, Miss Gray," she said, "_I_ don't cry; but do you know, it 
seems so odd that I should die, doesn't it now?" 

Rachel did not reply, nor did she attempt it; her very heart was wrung. 
Mary guessed, or saw it. 

"I wish you would not fret," she said, "I wish you would not. Miss Gray. 
_I_ don't, you see." 

"Ay," thought Rachel, "you do not, my poor child, for what do you know of 
death?" And a little while after this, Mary, who felt heavy, fell asleep 
with her hand in that of Rachel Gray. 


CHAPTER XX. 


Three days had passed. 

The morning was gray and dull. He had sat up all night by Mary; for 
Rachel, exhausted with fatigue, had been unable to come. Poor little 
Mary, her hour was nigh; she knew it, and her young heart grieved for her 
father, so soon to be childless. She thought of herself too; she looked 
over the whole of her young life, and she saw its transgressions and its 
sins with a sorrow free from faithless dismay; for Rachel had said to 
her: "Shall we dare to limit for ourselves, or for others, the unfathomed 
mercy of God?"

"Father," she suddenly said, "I want to speak to you."

"What is it, my darling?" he asked, bending over her fondly. She looked 
up in his face, her cheeks flushed with a deeper hectic, her glassy eyes 
lit with a brighter light. 

"Father," she said, "I have been a naughty child, have I not?" 

"No--no, my little pet, never, indeed, never." 

"I know I have been naughty, father; I 'have been,' oh! so cross at 
times; but, father, I could not help it--at least, it seemed as if I 
could not--my back ached so, and indeed," she added, clasping her hands, 
"I am very sorry, father, very sorry." 

He stooped still nearer to her; he laid his cheek on her pillow; he 
kissed her hot brow, little Mary half smiled. 

"You forgive me, don't you?" she murmured faintly. 

"Forgive you! my pet--my darling." 

"Yes, pray do," she said. 

She could scarcely speak now; there was a film on her eyes, too. He saw 
it gathering fast, very fast. Suddenly she seemed to revive like a dying 
flame. Again she addressed him. 

"Father!" she said, "why don't you take down the shutters?" 

And with singular earnestness she fixed her eyes on his. Take down the 
shutters? The question seemed a stab sent through his very heart. Yet he 
mastered himself, and replied: "'Tis early yet; 'tis very early, my 
darling." 

"No 'taint," she said, in her old pettish way, and then she murmured in a 
low and humbled tone: "Ah! I forget--I forget. I did not mean to be 
cross again. Indeed I did not, father, so pray forgive me." 

"Don't think of it, my pet. Do you wish for anything?" 

"Nothing, father, but that you would take down the shutters." 

He tried to speak--he could not; only a few broken sounds gasped on his 
lips for utterance. 

"Because you see," she continued with strange earnestness, "the customers 
will all be coming and wondering if they see the shop shut; and they will 
think me worse, and so--and so--" 

She could not finish the sentence, but she tried to do so. 

"And so you see, father." Again the words died away. Her father raised 
his head; he looked at her; he saw her growing very white. Again he bent, 
and softly whispered: "My darling, did you say your prayers this 
morning?" 

An expression of surprise stole over the child's wan face. 

"I had forgotten," she replied, faintly, "I shall say them now." She 
folded her thin hands, her lips moved. "Our father who art in heaven," 
she said, and she began a prayer that was never finished upon earth. 

The dread moment had come. The angel of death stood in that hushed room; 
swiftly and gently he fulfilled his errand, then departed, leaving all in 
silence, breathless and deep. 

He knew it was all over. He rose; he closed the eyes, composed the 
slender limbs, then he sat down by his dead child, a desolate man--a 
heart-broken father. How long he sat thus he knew not; a knock at the 
door at length roused him. Mechanically he rose and went and opened. He 
saw a man who at once stepped in and closed the door, and before the man 
spoke, Jones knew his errand. 

"It's all right," he said, "I know, the landlord could scarcely help it; 
come in." 

The bailiff was a bluff, hearty-looking man; he gave Jones a sound slap 
on the shoulder. 

"You are a trump! that's what you are," he said, with a big oath. 

Jones did not answer, but showed his guest into the back parlour. 

"Halloo! what's that?" cried the bailiff, attempting to raise the 
bed-curtain. 

"Don't," said Jones, in a husky voice. 

Then the man saw what it was, and he exclaimed quite ruefully: "I am very 
sorry--I am very sorry." 

"You can't help it," meekly said Jones, "you must do your duty." 

"Why that's what I always say," cried the bailiff with a second oath, 
rather bigger than the first, "a man must do his duty, mustn't he?" and a 
third oath slipped out. 

"Don't swear, pray don't!" said Jones. 

"And if I do, may I be--" here the swearing bailiff paused aghast at what 
he was going to add. "I can't help myself like," he said, rather 
ruefully, "it's second natur, you see, second natur. But I'll try and not 
do it--I'll try." 

And speaking quite softly, spite of his swearing propensities, he looked 
wistfully at Jones; but the childless father's face remained a blank. 

"Make yourself at home," he said in a subdued voice. "I think you'll find 
all you want in that cupboard, at least 'tis all I have." 

And he resumed his place by the dead. 

"All I want, and all you have," muttered the bailiff with his head in the 
cupboard. "Then faith, my poor fellow, 'tain't much."

The day was chill and very dreary; the bailiff smoked his pipe by the low 
smouldering fire, and yawned over a dirty old newspaper. Two hours had 
passed thus when Jones said to him: "You don't want for anything, do 
you?" 

"Why no," musingly replied the bailiff, taking out his pipe, and looking 
up from his paper, "thank you, I can't say I want for anything, but what 
have you to say to a glass of grog, eh?" 

He rather brightened himself at the idea. 

"I'll send for anything you like," drearily replied Jones, and it was 
plain he had not understood as relating to himself the kindly meant 
proposal. 

The bailiff rather stiffly said, he wanted nothing. 

"Well then," resumed Jones, slipping off his shoes, "I'll leave you for 
awhile." 

"Why, where are you going?" cried the other staring. 

"There," said Jones, and raising the curtain, he crept in to his dead 
darling. 

The curtain shrouded him in; he was alone--alone with his child and his 
grief. A little child he had cradled her in his arms; many a time had she 
slept in that fond embrace, to her both a protection and a caress. And 
now! He looked at the little pale face that had fallen asleep in prayer; 
he saw it lying on its pillow in death-like stillness; and if he 
repressed the groan that rose to his lips the deeper was his anguish. 

Oh, passion! eloquent pages have been wasted on thy woes; volumes have 
been written to tell mankind of thy delights and thy torments. To no 
other tale will youth bend its greedy ear, of no other feelings will man 
acknowledge the power to charm his spirit and his heart. And here was one 
who knew thee not in name or in truth, and yet who drank to the dregs, 
and to the last bitterness his cup of sorrow. Oh! miserable and unpoetic 
griefs of the prosaic poor. Where are ye, elements of power and pathos of 
our modern epic: the novel? A wretched shop that will not take, a sickly 
child that dies! Ay, and were the picture but drawn by an abler hand, 
know proud reader, if proud thou art, that thy very heart could bleed, 
that thy very soul would be wrung to read this page from a poor man's 
story. 

And so he lay by his dead, swelling with a tearless agony, a nameless and 
twofold desolation. Gaze not on that grief--eye of man: thou art 
powerless to pity, for thou art powerless to understand. 

"Only think!" said a neighbour to Mrs. Smith, "Mr. Jones's shutters have 
been closed the whole day. I can't think what the matter is." 

"Can't you," replied Mrs. Smith laughing, "why, woman, the shop is shut." 

Ay, the shop was shut. The shop which Richard Jones had opened with so 
much pride--the shop which he had ever linked with his child, closed on 
the day of her death, and never reopened. He did not care. His little 
ambition was wrecked; his little pride was broken; his little cruise of 
love had been poured forth upon the earth by God's own hand; it was empty 
and dry; arid sand and dust had drunk up its once sweet waters. 

What a man without ambition, pride, and lore may be, he had become in the 
one day that bereaved him. 

Pity not him, reader; his tale is told; pity him whose bitter story of 
hope and disappointment but begins as I write, and as you read. For 
mortal hand has not sounded the bitter depth of such woes. In them live 
the true tragic passions that else seem to have passed from the earth; 
passions that could rouse the meekest to revenge and wrath, if daily dew 
from heaven fell not on poor parched hearts, as nightly it comes down 
from the skies above, on thirsting earth. 


CHAPTER XXI. 


A time may come when the London churchyard shall be remembered as a thing 
that has been and is no more; but now who knows it not? Who need describe 
the serried gravestones that mark the resting places in this sad field of 
death; who need tell how they stare at busy passers by through their iron 
grating--how they look ghastly, like the guest of the Egyptian feast, 
dead in the midst of tumult and riotous life. 

Dreary are they when the sun shines on them, and their rank weeds, the 
sun which those beneath feel not, but more dreary by far when the 
drizzling rain pours down the dark church walls and filters into the 
sodden earth. And in such a place, and on such a day did they make the 
grave of Mary Jones. 

Two mourners stood by: a woman and a man. When all was over, when earth 
had closed over the grave and its contents, the man sat down on a 
neighbouring gravestone, and looked at that red mound which held his all, 
with a dreary stolid gaze of misery and woe. 

Rachel bent over him, and gently laid her hand on his shoulder. 

"Mr. Jones, you must come!" she said. 

He made no reply, he did not rise, and when she took his hand to lead him 
away, he yielded without resistance. She took him to her own house. 
Kindly and tenderly she led him, like a little child, and a child he 
seemed to have become, helpless, inert--without will, without power. 

His own home was a wreck, the prey of creditors, who found but little 
there, yet sufficient, for their claims were few, to save him from 
disgrace. Rachel Gray gave him the room where his child once had slept, 
where he had come in to look at her in her sleep, and fondly bent over 
her pillow: he burst into tears as he entered it; and those tears 
relieved him, and did him good. 

At the end of two days he rallied from his torpor; he awoke, he 
remembered he was a man born to work, to earn his daily bread, and bear 
the burden of life. 

He went out one morning, and looked for employment. Something he found to 
do; but what it was he told not Rachel. When she gently asked, he shook 
his head and smiled bitterly. 

"It don't matter. Miss Gray," he said; "it don't matter." 

No doubt it was some miserable, poorly paid task. Yet he only spoke the 
truth, when he said it mattered little. He lived and laboured, like 
thousands; but he cared not for to-day, and thought not of to-morrow; the 
Time of Promise and of Hope had for ever departed. What though he should 
feel want, so long as he could pay his weekly rent to Rachel Gray, he 
cared not. There is an end to all things; and as for his old age, should 
he grow old, had he not the parish and the workhouse? And so Richard 
Jones could drag on through life, of all hopes, save the heavenly hope, 
forsaken. 

But Heaven chose to chastise and humble still further, this already 
chastised and sorely humbled man. He fell ill, and remained for weeks on 
his sick bed, a burden cast on the slender means of Rachel Gray. In vain 
he begged and prayed to be sent to the workhouse or some hospital; Rachel 
would not hear of it. She kept him, she attended on him with all the 
devotedness of a daughter; between him and her father she divided her 
time. Earnestly Jones prayed for death: the boon was not granted; he 
recovered. 

They sat together and alone one evening in the quiet little parlour--
alone, for Thomas Gray was no one, when there came a knock at the door, 
and the visitor admitted by Rachel, proved to be Joseph Saunders. 

"Mr. Jones is within," hesitatingly said Rachel 

"And I just want to speak to him," briefly replied Saunders, "so that's 
lucky." 

He walked into the parlour as he spoke; Rachel followed, wondering what 
was to be the issue. On seeing his enemy, poor Jones reddened slightly 
but the flush soon died away, and in a meek, subdued voice, he was the 
first to say "good evening."

"Sorry to hear you have been ill," said Saunders sitting down, "but you 
are coming round, ain't you?" 

"I am much better," was the quiet reply. 

"Got anything to do?" bluntly asked Saunders. 

"Nothing as yet," answered Jones with a subdued groan, for he thought of 
Rachel, so poor herself, and the burden he was to her. 

"Well then, Mr. Jones; just listen to me!" said Saunders, drawing his 
chair near, "I know you have a grudge against me." 

"You have ruined me," said Jones. 

"Pshaw, man, 'twas all fair, all in the way of business," exclaimed 
Saunders a little impatiently. 

"You have ruined me," said Jones again; "but I forgive you, I have long 
ago forgiven you, and the shadow of a grudge against you, or living man, 
I have not, thank God!" 

"That's all right enough," emphatically said Saunders; "still, Mr. Jones, 
you say I have ruined you. It isn't the first time either that you have 
said so, and with some people, I may as well tell you it has injured me." 

"I am sorry if it has," meekly said Jones. 

"And I don't care a button," frankly declared Saunders, "but as I was 
saying, that's your belief, your impression; and to be sure it's true 
enough in one sense, but then, Mr. Jones, you should not look at your 
side of the question only. Mr. Smithson meant to set up a grocer's shop 
long before you opened yours; he spoke to me about it, and if I had only 
agreed then, it was done; you came, to be sure, but what of that? the 
street was as free to us as to you; that I lodged in your house was an 
accident; I did not know when I took your room that I should supplant you 
some day. I did not know Smithson had still kept that idea in his head, 
and that finding no situation I should be glad to consent at last. Well, 
I did consent, and I did compete with you, and knocked you over, as it 
were, but Mr. Jones, would not another have done it? And was it not all 
honourable, fair play?" 

"Well, I suppose it was," sadly replied Jones, "and since it was a 
settled thing that I was to be a ruined man, I suppose I ought not to 
care who did it." 

"Come, that's talking sense," said Saunders, with a nod of approbation, 
"and now, Mr. Jones, we'll come to business, for I need not tell you nor 
Miss Gray either, that I did not come in here to rip up old sores. You 
must know that the young fellow who used to serve in my shop has taken 
himself off, he's going to Australia, he says, but that's neither here 
nor there; I have a regard for you, Mr. Jones, and having injured you 
without malice, I should like to do you a good turn of my own free will; 
and then there's my wife, who was quite cut up when she heard you had 
lost your little daughter, and who has such a regard for Miss Gray, but 
that's neither here nor there; the long and short of it is, will you 
serve in my shop, and have a good berth and moderate wages, and perhaps 
an increase if the business prospers?" 

Poor Richard Jones! This was the end of all his dreams, his schemes, his 
anger, his threatened revenge! And yet, strange to say, he felt it very 
little. Every strong and living feeling lay buried in a grave. His soul 
was as a thing dead within him; his pride had crumbled into dust, as Mary 
would have said: his spirit was gone. 

The humiliation of accepting Joseph Saunders proposal,--and, however 
strange, it was certainly well and kindly meant--Richard Jones did not 
consider. He looked at the advantages, and found them manifest; there lay 
the means of paying Rachel, of covering his few debts, and of securing to 
his wearied life the last and dearly-bought boon of repose. Awhile he 
reflected, then said aloud: "I shall be very glad of it, lam very much 
obliged to you, Mr. Saunders." 

"Well, then, it's done," said Mr. Saunders, rising, "good night, Jones, 
cheer up, old fellow. Good night, Miss Gray; Jane sends her love, you 
know. Sorry the old gentleman's no better." And away he departed, very 
well satisfied with the success of his errand. 

"Oh! Mr. Jones!" exclaimed Rachel, when she returned to the parlour. 

"Don't mention it," he said with a faint smile, "I don't mind it, Miss 
Gray." 

"But could you not have stayed here?" she asked. 

"And be a burden upon you I that's what I have done too long, Miss Gray." 

"But until you found employment elsewhere, you might have remained." 

"His house is as good as any; his bread is not more bitter than 
another's," replied Jones, in a subdued voice, "besides, now that my Mary 
is gone, what need I care, Miss Gray?" And as he saw that her eyes were 
dim, he added: "You need not pity me, Miss Gray, the bitterness of my 
trouble is, and has long been over. My Mary is not dead for me. She is, 
and ever will be, living for her old father, until the day of meeting. 
And whilst I am waiting for that day, you do not think I care about what 
befalls me." 


CHAPTER XXII. 


Once more Rachel was alone. Once more solitude and the silence of the 
quiet street, shrouded her in. 

A new life now began for Rachel Gray. Like a plant long bent by adverse 
winds, she slowly recovered elasticity of spirit, and lightness of heart. 
What she might have been, but for the gloom of her youth, Rachel never 
was; but as the dark cloud, which had long hung over her, rolled away, as 
she could move, speak, eat, and think unquestioned in her little home, a 
gleam of sunshine, pale but pure, shone over her life with that late-won 
liberty. Her speech became more free, her smile was more frequent, her 
whole manner more open and cheerful.

Rachel lived, however, both by taste and by long habit, in great 
retirement, and saw but few people. Indeed, almost her only visitors were 
Richard Jones and Madame Rose. The little Frenchwoman now and then 
dropped in, looked piteously at Thomas Gray, shrugged her shoulders, 
nodded, winked, and did everything to make herself understood, but talk 
English; and Rachel listened to her, and laughed gaily at the strange 
speech and strange ways of her little friend. 

Richard Jones was a still more frequent visitor. He came to receive, not 
to give sympathy. The society of Rachel Gray was to him a want of his 
life, for to her alone he could talk of Mary; he spoke and she listened, 
and in listening gave the best and truest consolation. Now and then, not 
often, for Rachel felt and knew that such language frequently repeated 
wearies the ear of weak humanity, she ventured to soothe his grief with 
such ailments as she could think of. And her favorite one, one which she 
often applied to herself and her own troubles was: "We receive blessings 
from the hand of God, shall we not also take sorrow when it pleases Him 
to inflict it?" 

"Very true. Miss Gray, very true," humbly assented Richard Jones. 

Of his present position he never spoke, unless when questioned by Rachel, 
and when he did so, it was to say that "Saunders and his wife were very 
kind to him, very kind. And I am quite happy, Miss Gray," he would add, 
"quite happy." 

And thus like a hidden stream flowed on the life of Rachel Gray, silent, 
peaceful and very still. It slept in the shadow of the old grey street, 
in the quiet shelter of a quiet home, within the narrow circle of plain 
duties. Prayer, Love, Meditation and Thought graced it daily. It was 
humble and lowly in the eyes of man; beautiful and lovely in the sight of 
God. 

And thus quiet and happy years had passed away, and nothing had arrested 
their monotonous flow. 

It was evening, Rachel and her father were alone in the little parlour. 
Thomas Gray was still a childish old man, bereft of knowledge and of 
sense. Yet now, as Rachel helped him to his chair, and settled him in it, 
something, a sort of light seemed to her to pass athwart the old man's 
face, and linger in his dull eyes. 

"Father!" she cried, "do you know me?" 

In speech he answered not, but it seemed to her that in his look she read 
conscious kindness. She pressed his hand, and it appeared to press hers 
in return; she laid her cheek to his, and it did not seem lifeless or 
cold. Then, again she withdrew from him and said: 

"Father, do you know me?" 

He looked at her searchingly and was long silent: at length he spoke, and 
in a low but distinct voice, said: "Rachel." 

In a transport of joy, Rachel sank at his feet and sobbing clasped her 
arms around him. 

"Never mind, Rachel," he said, "never mind." 

"Father, father," she cried, "you know me, say you know me." 

But she asked too much, it was but a dawn of intelligence that had 
returned; never was the full day to shine upon earth. 

"Never mind, Rachel," he said again, "never mind." 

But though the first ardour of her hopes was damped, her joy was 
exquisite and deep. Her father knew her, he had uttered her name with 
kindness, in his feeble and imperfect and childish way, he loved her! 
What more then was needed by one who like the humble lover recorded by 
the Italian poet, had ever 

   "Desired much, hoped little, nothing asked."


Somewhat late that same evening, Richard Jones knocked at Rachel's door. 
As she opened to him the light she held shone on her face, and though he 
was not an observant man, he was struck with her aspect. There was a 
flush on her cheek, a light in her eyes, a smile on her lips, a radiance 
and a joy in Rachel's face which Richard Jones had never seen there 
before. He looked at her inquiringly, but she only smiled and showed him 
in. 

And now, reader, one last picture before we part. 

It is evening, as you know, and three are sitting in the little parlour 
of Rachel Gray. An autumn evening it is, somewhat chill with a bright 
fire burning in the grate, and lighting up with flickering flame the 
brown furniture and narrow room. And of these three who sit there, one is 
a grey, childish old man in an arm-chair; another, a man who is not old, 
but whose hair has turned prematurely white with trouble and sorrow; the 
third is a meek, thoughtful woman with a book on her knees, who sits 
silently brooding over the words her lips have uttered; for she has been 
reading how the Lord gives and how the Lord takes away, and how we yet 
must bless the name of the Lord. 

The good seed of these words has not been shed on a barren soil. As 
Richard Jones sits and dreams of his lost darling, he also dreams of 
their joyful meeting some day on the happier shore, and perhaps now that 
time has passed over his loss and that its first bitterness has faded 
away, perhaps he confesses with humble and chastened heart, that meet and 
just was the doom which snatched from him his earthly idol, and, for a 
while, took away the too dearly loved treasure of his heart. 

And Rachel Gray, too, has her thoughts. As she looks at her father, and 
whilst thankful for what she has obtained, as she yet longs, perhaps, for 
the full gift she never can possess; if her heart feels a pang, if 
repining it questions and says: "Oh! why have I not too a father to love 
and know me, not imperfectly, but fully--completely," a sweet and secret 
voice replies: "You had set your heart on human love, and because you had 
set your heart upon it, it was not granted to you. Complain not, murmur 
not, Rachel, if thou hast not thy father upon earth, remember that thou 
hast thy Father in Heaven!" 

THE END. 



PRINTED BY BERNHARD TAUCHNITZ. 





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