|Chapter Number||III - IV|
|Newspaper Title||The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933)|
|Trove Title||Vicissitudes of an Orphan|
VICISSITUDES OF AN ORPHAN.
BY THE AUTHOR OF "ALICE VERNON."
AFTER the debts of the deceased were paid, the sum left in Dora's hands was pitiably small. She had not expected much, but she was disap- pointed to find it so very little; and, for awhile, her heart failed her. For what could she do? Where should she turn? Her friends in the village were comparatively humble, and could not afford to maintain her, even if her self- respect stooped to let them.
And now she saw the necessity of leaving the village, as her father and she had often foretold she would. In so small and poor a place there was no employment to be found, except a ser- vile one. Dora was of a sanguine temperament. She knew she had accomplishments, and she felt that she possessed energy; to the neigh- boring city, therefore, she resolved to go. Nor did her friends dissuade her. Both the clergy- man and innkeeper told her that, in a great city, she could easily find some avenue to re- spectable employment; a situation as teacher or governess, they felt certain, could be obtained in time, if not immediately, for both had the highest opinion of Dora's abilities.
The tears fell fast from Dora's eyes as the
coach rolled away from the village. Fortu- nately she was, as yet, the only passenger, and could, therefore, indulge her grief unchecked. She did not look up till the vehicle rattled over the bridge. Then she stole a sudden glance in the direction of the cottage, where she had spent so many happy hours. She thought of Paul. Often had she walked with him, down the leafy road, listening entranced to his elo- quent words. Where was he now? Dead also? Treacherous? Alas! she would sooner have believed the former; but she feared she had not even that poor consolation. With a burst of indignant pride she banished the thought of her unworthy lover. It seemed, indeed, sacrilege to be thinking of him to the exclusion of one who had never pained her during her whole life. She turned to the churchyard, which the coach was now ap- proaching. It was easy to detect the new-made mound, under the broad spreading oak; and, at the sight, her grief broke forth into audible sobs. She thought of those grey hairs, lying damp in the coffin, which might now have been pressed to her bosom, had not her treacherous lover murdered—yes! murdered her father, by perfidy to her. And then she almost cursed
She took lodgings, for a day or two, at a large hotel. She had been advised to do this, notwithstanding the expense, as it would give her a better appearance with those to whom she carried letters of introduction. The morning after her arrival, she sent around these letters. That day and the next she awaited an answer in vain. On the third morning, when she was beginning to despair, a venerable clergyman called on her; and he was the only one of the
four that she ever saw. The others were men of business, who had either purposely forgotten or neglected her, "having no time," as they said, "to be bothered in that way."
The old minister, with his scrupulously neat black dress, white neckcloth, and kind face, made Dora feel quite re-assured, and she frankly told him her plans.
"I'm afraid, my child," said he, gravely, "your friends have advised you wrong. It is a common error for people in the country to sup- pose that a great city is sure to afford employ- ment, when the fact is that the town is the worse place of the two; for though the de- mand for labor and skill is greater here, the competition disproportionally exceeds it. How- ever, we'll see what can be done."
The next day the clergyman came again. He had endeavored to obtain Dora a situation as teacher in one of the public schools, but there was no vacancy. After that, he had inquired among the private academies, but with a simi-
"There is no alternative, I fear," he said, "but to set up a school yourself. You are too young, indeed, to teach young ladies; and it would require more capital than you have, per- haps; but an infant school might do. I think I could promise you half-a-dozen children, if not more, from my own congregation."
Dora felt relieved, until, inquiring what sum would be necessary to purchase the fixtures, she learned, to her dismay, that all the money she had would not half suffice. So she said she would think of it; for she did not like to say how poor she really was; it would seem, she thought, like an indirect appeal to his charity. No, she would endure anything rather than do
"Meantime," she said, "can you refer me to a boarding-house. This crowded hotel is agree- able neither to my means nor to my tastes."
The clergyman promised to inquire for her, and was as good as his word. The next day Dora was installed in a respectable boarding-house. Her bill at the hotel almost emptied her purse; and she shuddered when she thought of it.
She was soon after deprived of the counsel and assistance of the good minister, who was taken seriously ill, and indeed never recovered. The excellent old man had worn himself out in the service of his congregation, and now, being feeble and failing, could not preach with the vigor he once did. On this, some of the mem- bers became dissatisfied; they wanted a younger and more eloquent man—one who could draw a congregation, as they said; the church was suffering terribly from the prosy sermons of one who was in his dotage. At last, the discontent reached such a height, that a committee of the members waited informally on the grey-haired minister, and bluntly told him that the church was becoming a losing concern, in consequence of what they plainly called his inefficiency.
It was some time before the old man could speak, through emotion. At last, he said, while the tears came into his eyes, "Gentlemen, I may be inefficient in the pulpit; but I am ever first at the bed of death, or when distress in- vades the household of any of my flock. A pastor's duty does not consist, I humbly ven- ture to say, merely in brilliant preaching, but more, far more, in watching over the flock which is committed to his care. However, I will not stand in the way. Six-and-thirty years I have preached for you, and I have worn my- self out in your service; and now, when I am weak and old, you turn me off, like a broken- down hack, to die on the common." And die he did. This interview happened on the day that Dora changed her lodgings, and, within a month, the broken-hearted clergyman was in his grave. Few knew the cause of his death; for when the committee saw the effect of their heartless selfishness, they hushed the matter up; and when at last the old man died, none
wore deeper crape on their hats, or more reve- rently solicited permission to carry the bier,
than these Pharisees of Mammon.
Dora was now utterly friendless. She looked to her own resources, however, like a brave, energetic girl. She did not even wait until the death of the old clergyman, but at once began to seek for employment. The idea of the school she abandoned as hopeless; but she thought it not impossible to obtain a situation as governess, and, to that end, advertised in the newspaper. She soon found, however, that a friendless fe-
male has but a poor chance, in a large city, of obtaining employment of this kind. The num- bers of what are called distressed gentlewomen —in other words, those who are unfit, from habits and physical weakness, for severe task- work—are always so much greater than the vacancies, that it requires considerable influence to obtain posts of this character, even with their miserable pittance. Week after week glided away, and Dora either had no replies to her ad- vertisement, or else found herself supplanted by some one with more numerous references. Her purse, meantime, was rapidly sinking. She grew heart-sick at the prospect of approaching poverty. Her cheek became thin, and her nerves shat- tered by the constant pressure of anxiety, and the want of her native air.
Again she felt the necessity of seeking a cheaper boarding-house; and, with much diffi- culty, she found one; for everybody was suspi-
cious of a female so young and lonely, and who had neither family nor friends to refer to. In two or three instances, her application was rudely repulsed with insult. She resolved, at last, to apply for a servant's place, every other resource having been exhausted.
Accordingly she went to a registry-office, paid her fee, and was referred to a lady who required
a chamber maid.
Dora, though pale and thin, had still an air so different from a servant in search of a place, that, when she knocked at the house to which she had been sent, she was ushered into the parlor.
It was a spacious room, and splendidly fur- nished. Damask lounges, Saxony carpets, lace curtains, statuettes, and all the other elegancies of wealth and taste were scattered, in pictur-
esque negligence, about the apartment. On the carved centre-table lay a prayer book, bound in purple velvet, with gold clasps; and near at hand, somewhat ostentatiously exhibited, was an embroidery frame, with a rich altar-cloth half
Almost immediately the mistress of the man- sion entered the room, clad in an exquisite morn- ing gown, and her whole air full of high-bred lassitude. She bowed courteously to Dora, but waited for the visitor to speak.
"I am told, ma'am," said Dora, "that you
are in want of a chamber-maid."
The start of surprise and hauteur with which the fine lady rose from her seat, was the most natural thing she had been guilty of for a long time. She crossed the room hurriedly, her deli-
cate slippers scarcely making an impression on the carpet, and vigorously rang the bell. A ser-
vant hastened at the summons.
"Show this girl out into the kitchen," she said, "send for the housekeeper—the young woman is wanting the chamber-maid's place— but you may tell Mrs. Moore she won't do—she has so shocked my nerves, that I shall never be able to endure her sight." And, dropping into a luxurious easy-chair, she picked up a superb feather fan, and began fanning herself rapidly.
The footman understood the hint, and without further ado, hustled Dora out of the house, as if she had been a being of a different order from his elegant and nervous mistress.
Many more scenes like the above Dora had to go through. Most generally she failed, because she had no reference. Some refused her for her confession that she had never before "lived out" others thought her too young, and, there- fore presumed she was too giddy; and a few brutally told her that they believed she sought a place only to get opportunities to steal. "A pretty face," they said, "and just such a story of being without friends, had taken them in once before, and they didn't think they should be caught again."
What to do now she could not tell. She was nearly at the end of her resources. To crown all, one evening, as she was coming home from a fruitless search after employment, she stopped to buy some bread, and, in putting her purse back into her pocket, let it fall. At least, on reaching her lodgings, she missed it, and could account for its loss in no other way. She hur- ried back, late as it was, to the little shop where she had made her purchase, but the woman who kept it knew nothing, or affected to know no- thing of the missing money. All the way home, Dora carefully scrutinised the pavement, going and returning many times, until at last a rude stranger addressing her coarsely, she hurried to her lodgings in affright.
The blow almost stunned her. She was now litterally penniless—a beggar in the full sense of the term. Where to turn, whither to look, she knew not. The crisis she had so long feared, had come, and she might, for all she knew, be turned into the streets to-morrow—for she now recollected that her week's board was due that very evening; and by morning, at furthest, the landlady would be demanding it. Suddenly a thought struck her; it appeared a last ray of hope; and, like one drowning, she clutched at
the idea eagerly.
DURING the long hours that Dora had spent, for weeks past, in her room, she had been en- gaged in embroidering a handkerchief, a kind of work in which she greatly excelled. It had been in buying thread for this very employment that she had lost her purse. It now struck her that, though the handkerchief was still unfinished, she might find some shopkeeper liberal enough to advance a small sum on it, leaving the balance to remain until she could complete the work. Flattering herself with this hope, she retired early to rest. She had, now for three days, de- nied herself a fire, in order to economise, and she felt chilled through.
With early dawn she awoke, dressed, and went out, without waiting for breakfast. She had passed a restless night; indeed she could nei- ther sleep nor eat, until she knew the result of this last experiment.
It was a bitter morning, in the depth of win- ter. A storm of sleet had set in during the night and was still raging—the rain and hail driving in wild gusts downward, and freezing as soon as it fell. The pavements were sheeted an inch deep with ice, so that the few pedestrians abroad took to the carriage-way for a safer foot- ing. Everywhere the trees were borne down, and in some places broken by the weight of frozen hail. Icicles, huge and fantastic, de- pended from the eaves of the houses. The wind
howled dismally around the corners, rattled through the loose shutters, and shrieked shrilly would not have turned a dog from his door; and scarcely a vehicle could be seen, or a human
she prevent it being turned inside out by the wind. Her thin shawl was her sole protection against the cold and wet. At every step the icy her stiff and frozen frock. Frequently, as she passed along, the servant girls came to their doors, to go on hasty errands, but, after a glance though not without a sympathising look after Dora. Now a gust of wind dashing the sleet into her face, almost blinded her for a moment; and, then a blast, whirling around a corner, drove her, hurrying and trembling, before it.
and down, offering her handkerchief for sale; but without success. Nobody would even look at it. "They did not want unfinished work," said some. Others replied crustily that "they never bought any but French hankerchiefs."
At last Dora, hopeless and heart-broken, turned to go home. But how should she meet her landlady? She had walked briskly on, as briskly as the storm would allow, while a hope of success remained; but now she moved wearily, as if dreading to reach the end of her journey. Even that bitter tempest was welcome to her in preference to facing her angry creditor.
At length she reached her lodgings. Hastily entering, she passed along a narrow hall, and up a crooked staircase, until she reached a back gar- ret, looking down into a confined yard. A cot bedstead, a table, a single chair, and her trunk formed the furniture of the room, the walls of which, on this day, were damp with moisture. Dora wearily threw off her bonnet and shawl, and then, sinking on the chair, leaned her arms on the table and buried her face in her hands.
She had scarcely done this, when her compo- sure gave way entirely. Wild sobs shook her frame; and, at last, her anguish found vent in words. "Oh! Father in heaven," she said, lift- ing her face above, is there none to help? Hast thou, too, deserted me?" Again a tempest of sobs shook her, choking all utterance. "No work —no money—no friends," she resumed, after awhile, "and no hope. Oh! Heavenly Father, have mercy!"
She wept aloud. A knock at the door startled her, even in her great anguish. She rose to her feet, looked wildly around, and, the knock being repeated, she hastily brushed the tears from her eyes, and, by a great effort suppressed her sobs. "Come in," she said, firmly nerving her- self to meet the worst. But her heart throbbed nevertheless, for she foreboded it was the land-
Her fears proved correct. The door opened, and the landlady entered. Dora gave a hasty glance at the intruder, and thought she had never seen a countenance in which so little sym- pathy was expressed.
"I want no foolish ceremony, young woman," began the landlady immediately, after a sharp glance around, at the end of which, she fixed her eyes keenly on Dora; "I suppose you know my object. I come for the week's board, due last night, and which ought to have been paid then."
Dora colored to the temples, and her whole frame trembled nervously. She felt that those sharp, twinkling eyes had penetrated her secret already. She looked down, then sideways, then glanced timidly at the landlady. She could not meet the eye of her visitor. Never before had she wanted courage, but now she almost wished the floor would open and swallow her.
"Well? said the landlady, and she elevated
"I—I cannot," began Dora, stammeringly, still looking down.
"What, the old story?" said her visitor, sharply, interrupting her. "No money, is it? Then, allow me to ask, young woman," she ex- claimed, what right had you to impose upon me for your board and lodging? I'd scarcely go wrong to give you over to the police for a
There was a time when Dora's haughty spirit would have resented language like this; but now, physically worn out and unnerved, she only
"Humph!" said the landlady, with something
For awhile, Dora sobbed uncontrollably; but, at last she essayed to speak, for the landlady stood evidently waiting on her, an incredulous curl upon her lip.
"I didn't mean," said Dora "to defraud you —indeed, ma'am, I didn't—but last night I lost my purse. I've been out seeking work—or trying to sell a handkerchief I embroidered— but I couldn't get anything to do."
All this had been said brokenly. And now, as another rush of shame at her destitute condi- tion swept over her, she gave way again to irre-
For some time the landlady watched her, but finally spoke. It was abruptly, and apparently on a strange subject. "How many days," she said, "is it since you have had a fire in here?"
"Three days," replied Dora.
"You couldn't have had much in your purse, then," said the landlady, or you wouldn't have frozen for three days up here."
At this fresh imputation, as Dora thought it, on her honesty, the orphan roused up. The first burst of shame had passed, and indignation at this hard treatment began to supplant every other feeling. Her eyes flashed as she answered, "Had I intended to defraud you, ma'am, I would not have worked here till my fingers were benumbed with cold—but I should have had a fire and been comfortable for the time, at
At this spirited reply, the landlady stared at Dora with surprise, not unmixed with admira- tion. And, in truth, the orphan girl looked at that moment positively grand. Her dilated form, her proud head, her blazing eyes, and her arms extended defyingly, reminded one of a haughty queen repelling insult, rather than a debtor replying to a creditor's taunt. But the landlady had not meant what Dora supposed, and she spoke in a milder tone.
"There's no need of getting into a passion, miss," she said; "you mistake me. But you say you have been embroidering—let me see what you've done."
Dora brought out the handkerchief, which the landlady turned over and over, carefully ex- amining it. Not satisfied with this, she sat down, took out her spectacles, wiped them care- fully, and then proceeded to scrutinise the work again. As she spread the handkerchief on the table, the Bible was in her way. She took it
up, turned to the back to see what book it was, gave a quick sharp glance at Dora, and then bent to her task. The result appeared to be
satisfactory, for, when she had concluded, she looked at Dora from head to foot with evident interest. And now, for the first time, she no-
ticed Dora's wet dress.
"Why didn't you come down stairs to the fire?" she said. "You haven't been sitting all
this while in that wet frock? And without a bit of breakfast either? Why, you crazy child, you'll be ill." She spoke roughly, but still not as she had spoken; and taking Dora by the arm, she fairly pushed her out of the room. "Here —come into my room," she said, pausing at the first landing, and opening a door. "I always keep a little fire in my own room, for I like to be alone, when I am not busy down stairs."
It was a small chamber, and plainly furni- shed; but exceedingly neat. There was an air of comfort about the room, cheered by a good fire, near which was placed an easy-chair, and close by it was a little old-fashioned round table, on which stood a work-box, a half-knit stocking, and, strangest of all, as Dora thought, a large,
"Sit there," said the landlady, putting a chair close to the fire; put these on your feet," she added, producing a pair of dry stockings and slippers. "And now dry your clothes, while I mix you a little medicine."
With that, this eccentric creature bustled to aa closet, took out a small bottle, and, pouring something from it into a tumbler, added sugar, and then hot water, which boiled in a hissing kettle on the fire. The whole she stirred briskly with a silver tea-spoon.
"There, drink this," she said; and, as Dora hesitated, she added, authoritively, "I know best what's good for you. Why, you'll be hav- ing the quinsy, or a fever, or perhaps a con- sumption. Many a one, stouter than you, has died of sitting in wet stockings for half the time."
There was so much real kindness in her man- ner now, notwithstanding the rough way in which she spoke, that Dora drank this draught off without any reply except a grateful look.
"Now you'll feel better," said the landlady, putting down the glass, and fetching a footstool, which she knelt to place for Dora. "And now, if you please, we'll proceed to business."
Dora, who was ready to shed tears again at this unexpected kindness, now felt her heart flutter once more; but the first words of the landlady reassured her.
"I'm a rough woman, miss, as you've seen," she said; "but it's not always a cold heart, or a hard one, that is concealed under a wrinkled face." Dora felt the reproof. "Those who are honest, as I believe you to be, have nothing to fear from me. If I spoke harshly to you up stairs, it was because I did not know you; and one who keeps a boarding-house for poor folks, as I do, learns to be suspicious; for between the idle and the wicked," and she shook her head sadly, half of one's lodgers cheat when they
Tears were now slowly falling from Dora's eyes and rolling down her cheeks. This kind- ness when she had looked for harshness, this friendliness when her desolation had reached its climax, affected her, in her low weak state, more than all the sorrows she had endured since she had come to the city. So she sat looking at the fire through her dim eyes, yet feeling in- discribably happy.
"When you answered me so truly that, if you had intended to cheat me," resumed the landlady, moving about the room, setting things to rights mechanically, "you would not have sat three days without a fire, I began to fear that I had mistaken your character; and when I found on your table a Bible that looked as if it had been read, I knew it for a certainty. Heaven bless you, darling," she said, suddenly, as, for the first time, she noticed Dora's silent tears, "don't take it so to heart. I've been without a penny more than once myself, and know what it is; and hadn't a friend either, which you have, and will have, as long as you
deserve it, in me."
She spoke with some emotion, and, as she ceased, she placed her hand on Dora's shoulder. As if by an uncontrolable impulse, the poor girl suddenly seized it, drew it to her face, and kissed it. That old withered hand was fairer to her at that moment, than the most beautiful
one in the world.
The good landlady seemed ashamed of the mute homage thus paid to her. She hastily withdrew her hand, and said—"Render thanks, my dear, to the Creator, not the creature. I am but a poor worm of the dust, who am as often unjust as just to my fellow-creatures; and I ought now to be asking your pardon for speak- ing so harshly to you upstairs, instead of receiv- ing this reverance. However," she continued, and she drew the back of her hand hastily across her eye, as if she herself was not un- affected, "this is not business. I'm disposed to be your friend, but I'm not rich myself, or I wouldn't be keeping a cheap boarding-house,"
and she gave an almost imperceptible sigh; then, resuming with more cheerfulness, she added, "and so we must put our heads together, to see what we can get for you to do. You sha'n't starve or freeze; but, if I know you, you don't want to be beholden to anyone."
"I will do anything," said Dora, eagerly. "I have tried everywhere, but in vain."
"This handkerchief is very pretty work,"
said the landlady taking it up from the table, where she had laid it, "but to find a customer for it one must know some fine lady, and even then she would buy it for charity as much as anything else. They embroider these things so much cheaper abroad, that such work don't pay
Dora heard this with a sigh. She had cal-
culated much on that handkerchief. "But," continued the landlady, "there are other things you can do. Not anything, indeed, that will pay very well," she said, sadly, "for wages get worse every year, and what will become of poor people by-and-bye, nobody knows. "But," she added, after a pause, in which she seemed to think, "I've a young woman boarding with me, about your own age, who works for an outfitter, and she can got you steady work, I think; for I heard her say, only this morning, that they were very busy now. It wouldn't take you long
to learn. You can sew?"
She looked inquiringly, as she spoke, at Dora's hands, but when she saw how delicate they were,
her sanguine tone fell.
"Oh! yes, I can sew," said Dora, quickly, holding up her finger, blue with thread-marks,
"Well, then," said the landlady, smiling ap- provingly, but shaking her head, "we'll soon settle it. The wages are low, very low, but even slop-work is better than nothing. The fact is, the master tailors want all the profit. There's Mr. Thomaston, whom you'll work for," she
continued, indignantly, "he rides in his carriage, and drinks champagne every day, they say— while hundreds like you and Susan can scarcely support themselves on the wages he pays. But there's a time of reckoning coming for him,"
said this kind, eccentric old creature, her sharp grey eyes flashing under the contracted brows. "It's such as him the Apostle means, when he says, 'Woe to ye, rich men, weep and howl. ' So take heart, miss; the wicked shall not always prevail."
Dora looked up in surprise. There was an earnestness, almost an enthusiasm in the speaker's manner, that bespoke the deep-rooted nature of her convictions. Her use of Scriptural lan- guage had nothing of cant, but was apparently the natural expression of one whose reading had been confined almost entirely to the Bible.
"Come," said the landlady noticing Dora's strange look, and half smiling, if one so grim in face could be said to smile, "I must not talk this way, or I will frighten you. But you'd think strongly too, if you'd suffered so long. I want to hear your story, for your manners show you to have been well brought up; and from your dress and poverty, I suppose you are an orphan. Speak, my dear, and tell me all. Even if I am mistaken, and you are homeless because you have done wrong, you need not fear to speak."
Dora, won by this strange kindness, did speak, and told all. All, at least, except what related to Paul. To that, maidenly delicacy forbade her even alluding.
Before she had finished, the landlady was sit-
ting, with Dora's hand in hers, tears falling fast from those eyes which Dora, but an hour before, had thought so pitiless.
"Well, my dear," said the landlady, when Dora had concluded, "there is nothing, in all you have told me, pleases me so well, as to dis- cover that you fear God. I am an old woman, and have seen my share of sorrow in my time. A husband, and two dear children, have been, for twenty years, in heaven, I trust; while I have been left alone, to fight with poverty, and even to suffer, at times, from sheer destitution. Nothing but my Bible could have supported me through all this. It has told me that the righte- ous shall never be forsaken, or their seed left to beg bread. I have still to work for my living, indeed, and expect to work till I die; but, thank Heaven, I have a comfortable home when others are starving. I've a little, too, to help others. But don't thank me, darling," she said, putting up her hand, as she saw Dora's grateful look, "for what I have done for you, but rather the Master, whose talent I strive not to bury. But now," she said, changing the theme, "I must leave you to attend to preparing dinner. You need rest—stay here meanwhile. When I come back I will bring Susan with me."
Left to herself, Dora's heart rose in gratitude to Heaven. Gradually, however, she sank into slumber. The fire, combined with her physical exhaustion, made her irresistibly drowsy, so that she did not rouse up till the landlady returned,
more than an hour after.
"You've had a nice sleep, I see," said the bustling, kind old woman, "and feel quite a different being, I don't doubt. I've brought
Susan with me."
She introduced the two girls who mutually took a survey of each other. Dora had met her new acquaintance before at table, but had never exchanged more than a few words with her. Now, however, she looked at her critically.
Susan Moore was a tall, thin, grateful, girl, dressed with much taste, though necessariy in the plainest materials. But she had a figure to set off even a common print, which was what she wore. Her complexion was brilli- ant and her eyes of a lively blue. The contour of her head was Grecian, even to that great de- fect of the classic model, the low forehead. Dora concluded, at once that her new friend was amiable, though not, perhaps, very talented.
"I hope we shall be very good friends," said Dora, kissing her. "I owe you thanks already, for Mrs. Harper has promised in your behalf that you will introduce me at Mr. Thomatson's."
"Oh! don't say a word, replied Susan, smil- ing delightedly, "I'm sure I'm the obliged per-
son. I've so long wanted to know you better, Miss Atherton; but there was something high and grand about you—I don't mean haughtiness; but something like a real lady; and it was that which kept me from speaking to you, as I would have done to any other, though I was dying to do it a dozen times. I'll go with you to Mr. Thomatson's to-morrow. But it's a hard life," she said with a sigh.
"We can't have everything as we wish, in this world," said Mrs. Harper, sententiously,"or I wouldn't be keeping a boarding-house in my old age. But I'm thankful to have that."
"Oh, to be sure," volubly continued Susan. "One's thankful, and all that; but still, when my fingers ache, as they do sometimes, and when my eyes grow weary, I think it hard that I should not have been born rich, and had a car- riage to ride in."
"And plenty of fine dresses," said Mrs. Har- per, smiling significantly, and shaking her head. "Ah! Susan, I'm afraid that's your especial weakness. You're a good girl, but a little vain."
Susan did not seem to resent the characteris- tic bluntness of the landlady; she had probably become accustomed to it by this time. "I own I like elegant dresses," she said; "why shouldn't I? It's better to look nice than old- fashioned, isn't it?"
If Dora had expressed her thoughts at that moment, she would have told Susan, that her dress, though fashionable, was less nice than it might be. But Mrs. Harper was not so for-
"All very well, my child," said Mrs. Harper, "but I'd rather see a girl look old-fashioned than untidy, which you do sometimes, Susan, as you know. But that's not exactly what I meant, either. It's the thought, and time, and money you consume on your dress, my dear, all of which might be given more profitably to other things. Our Creator meant us to look as beau- tiful as we could, no doubt; but He didn't mean we should place too much store on it—and that's what He intended when He said, 'Consider the lilies of the field, they toil not, neither do they spin.' This vanity, Susan, leads many a poor girl into trouble."
Susan colored at this plain speaking, and re- torted a little sharply, "I don't see, Mrs. Har- per, what the Bible has to do with a girl's dres-
sing as handsomely as she can. You're always quoting the Bible."
The landlady looked at the speaker, and re- plied more mildly than was her wont, "It has a great deal to do with it, my dear. If you read your Bible more, Susan, you wouldn't waste your money on foolish dress, but would lay by a little store for a rainy day.
"I'd like to know how I could do that," re- plied Susan, "on eight or ten shillings a week,
and something even less? I've as good a right to dress well, with my own money, as others. And it's unjust, I repeat, that I have to work so hard for that money, when so many, no better than I, have nothing to do all day but dress in handsome clothes, ride about shopping, or go to the theatre or opera when they please. Don't you think so, Miss Atherton?"
She turned eagerly to Dora as she spoke. Susan had often endured Mrs. Harper's scold- ing's, as she called them, before; but never, as now, in the presence of a third party, whose good opinion she desired to propitiate. She was
anxious to have Dora on her side.
Thus appealed to, Dora answered frankly, "I'm afraid, Susan, that the rich, if we only knew it, have their troubles as well as we; and that, in the distribution of happiness, they do not have much the advantage of us."
"You don't mean it?" said Susan, her eyes wide open with amazement. She had evidently never imagined the possibility of such a thing.
Dora smiled, and continued, "They don't suffer, as we do, from poverty. They don't have to work for bread, when they are worn out with fatigue. But they have other troubles—idle- ness, for instance—"
"Idleness? Oh! I wish I had that trouble," exclaimed Susan, fairly clapping her hands.
"Yes! ennui, as the French call it," said Dora, but reflecting that Susan did not know French, and might think her vain-glorious, she blushed, and continued, "I mean, that time hangs heavy on their hands. The want of occu- pation, proper exercise of mind and body, leads to a thousand undefinable ailments. Nowhere
have physicians so many patients as among women of the upper classes."
"That's just what I have often thought," said Mrs. Harper, admiringly, "but I never could have expressed it so well. And now I must go, for time is precious with me; the table has yet
to be set."
"And I must go back to that coat," said Susan, with a rueful face, and she would have complained more, but that she was a little crest- fallen. " I must sew fast to make up for this
The next morning was bright and clear. The sun came out resplendent, and every icicle glittered gloriously, while the trees in the public squares shone like a forest of diamonds; and, as soon as breakfast was despatched, Susan and Dora set out for Mr. Thomaston's.
The clothing emporium, as its proprietor magniloquently called it, was a seven-story building, with a gilded cupola on the top. A number of coats and other garments fluttered from the windows and doors, while huge placards at every window announced the cheapness, ex- cellence, and fashionable pattern of the articles
As Dora and her companion entered the door, they saw a tall, big-whiskered man, with a face eloquent of good living, standing picking his teeth just inside the entrance. Nearly a dozen shopmen flitted about the spacious shop, or
stood behind the counters in readiness to wait on customers. The establishment, indeed, was one of the largest in the city, and conducted, as the proprietor advertised, "on the most liberal principles;" in other words he studied to sell cheaper than his neighbors, by compelling his workmen to labor for lower wages; and by ad- hering to this simple rule, he had already amassed a large fortune.
He did not deign to notice the two girls. In fact, he was too intensely absorbed in thinking of the excellent breakfast from which he had just risen.
Susan led the way towards the back of the shop, where a short, untidy-looking man, in a pair of slippers down at the heel, and a shaggy head of uncombed hair, received Susan's bundle, the contents of which he examined preparatory to paying for it.
"You don't sew as neatly as you did at first," he said, gruffly. "Better take more pains next time, miss, or when work gets scarcer you'll find yourself on the list of those to be discharged."
Susan tossed her head and pouted, but said nothing. The man proceeded to pay her, and then made up another bundle. When he had done this, Susan introduced Dora, and explained the purport of her visit.
"Ah! very well, she can have something on trial," he said, after a short scrutiny of the new applicant. "You understand the terms?" he continued, addressing Dora; "any damage done to the cloth, to be paid for; and your work cash, as soon as delivered. Them's our rules. We don't keep a long account, and then cheat the workwomen, like some of our neighbors; but give a fair price and pay up on delivery."
Dora was glad to escape from this temple of Mammon. The coarse vulgarity of the fore- man, visible in his dress and face, as well as in his tone, was only surpassed by the innate vul- garity of the proprietor, which even his fine
dress could not conceal.
"Well, how do you like your work?" said Mrs. Harper, coming into the room, just before dinner—she had insisted on Dora's sewing in her chamber, so as to have the benefit of a fire —"it's a hard life, harder for you than Susan, though you make no complaint."
Dora looked cheerfully up. "I have done so much," she said, holding up her work. "Not a very promising beginning, but I hope to succeed better by-and-bye. I shall not earn enough to pay for my board the first week, though, since you've agreed to trust me, I've no doubt I shall do it eventually."
"I'm glad to see you so hopeful," replied Mrs. Harper. "I was afraid you would be discou- raged,"
"I believe I'm naturally of a sanguine tem- perament," said Dora, smiling; "but if I wasn't, what would be the use of regrets? Though I've been thinking, as I sat here, that if I was a rich lady, I should endeavor to do something for my poorer sisters, who are forced to sew, from one year's end to another, for the paltry pittance the tailor shops and outfitting establishments give."
"Shirt-making pays even worse than this," said the landlady, with a sigh, laying down the work. "I don't know what will be the end of it; for It gets worse every year; and already many a weak-hearted girl, who has not had good parents to give her fixed principles, has taken the wages of sin as preferable to this killing labor." She spoke bitterly; but, after a pause, resumed in a more natural tone, "you sew well, my dear."
"Almost too well, for such pay, you would say," replied Dora, looking up pleasantly. "But then, the smallness of the wages should be no excuse for slighting the work."
"You are right, my child," replied Mrs. Harper.
Two days after, Dora accompanied Susan again to the clothing emporium. It was about noon when they set out. A deep snow had fallen the night before, and the great thorough-
fare, through which part of their way led, was alive with gay equipages, darting hither and thither, with their spirited horses and freight of youth and beauty, that gave the usually hum- drum street a most animated appearance. As they approached Mr. Thomaston's, a beautiful vehicle, drawn by a bay horse of enormous stride, shot past them, whizzing over the frozen snow; and stopping in front of the shop, a fashionably-dressed young man sprang out and
When Dora and Susan opened the door, this person was standing directly in their way, and, in moving aside, he recognised Susan, to whom he familiarly nodded. This induced Dora to look at him again.
He was tall and rather graceful, but dressed with a second-rate coxcombry, that Dora could not help contrasting with the simple elegance of Paul's attire. His vest was deep, his coat cut very long in the skirt, and he wore a cravat tied in an enormous bow. A steeple hat, with a flat, and rather broad brim, surmounted a handsome, though sensual-looking face, without whiskers or beard, but displaying a carefully-trimmed mous- tache. At this instant Mr. Thomaston himself came down the shop, and addressed the young man; and now Dora knew them, from the strong family likeness, to be father and son. The younger was a fop, and the senior a glutton; and this, besides the disparity of years, seemed to be the only point of difference.
The youth looked rudely, but admiringly at Dora, and when she had passed, turned to fol- low her with his eyes, though his parent was eagerly asking him how he liked his new horse. At last the elder lost patience.
"There, don't be staring at my girls," he said, with an oath. "That's a luxury even you, you dog, can't afford—a fast horse is enough, just now." And seeing that his heir had turned at last, he continued pointing to the handsome bay, that now stood champing the bit, and flinging the foam over his shining coat, at every toss of his proud head, "Does he come up to the bar- gain? Will he do sixteen miles within the
"Do it like a jiffy, sir," replied the coxcomb; and in another minute he was deep in the mys-
teries of horse-flesh.
In about ten minutes Dora and Susan came down the shop again. The father stood aside to let them pass, but the son opened the door, bowing. He did it, howerer, in a way so fami- liar, that Dora's cheeks burned indignantly.
"Don't you think him handsome?" said Susan, in a whisper, looking back over her shoul- der, when they had gone a few steps.
"Who?" said Dora, her eyes flashing.
"Why, young Mr. Thomaston, to be sure," replied Susan.
"He's an ill-bred puppy," said Dora.
"Why, Miss Atherton, you're not serious?"
"Do you know him?" inquired Dora. "I saw him nod to you."
"Yes! I know him," said Susan, after a mo- ment, with some embarrassment. "That is, he has nodded to me whenever we have met lately."
"You ought not to notice him," said Dora, severely— quite severely for her, indeed. "Do, dear Susan, reflect that a nod from such as him can only be an insult."
She spoke earnestly, and, as she looked at Susan, deep entreaty beamed from her eyes. Susan's gaze fell beneath that imploring glance.
Nothing was said for several minutes, during which Dora continued walking rapidly forward, as if eager to get away from the very vicinity of the shop.
Suddenly the rapid approach of a vehicle was heard, accompanied by the strides of a powerful
horse. At the same moment a couple of boys, who stood at the corner throwing snow-balls, shouted "hi! hi!" Some person was evidently approaching at a tremendous pace. The girls looked up.
It was the younger Thomaston. With both hands grasping the reins, and holding on with all his might, he came tearing on, other vehicles making way for him—some with consternation— all with haste. He was evidently enjoying his vulgar display.
His entire object was not apparent, however, until he came opposite Dora, when be turned and looked boldly at her, smiling familiarly and nodding.
He had nearly upset his light vehicle, by thus removing his eyes, even for that instant, from the road. A slight snow bank, made by clearing the opposite pavement, was directly in front, and, while he was still looking back, the vehicle nearly tilted over.
Susan gave a slight scream; but no harm had been done. The accident, however, recalled the young blood to his duty of charioteer; he gave a sharp hallo, which the horse seemed to under- stand, for it started forward with a more rapid stride; and, before Dora's indignant color had left her cheeks, the swift vehicle was flitting out of sight, like a wild pigeon on the wing.
[TO BE CONTINUED.]
It is said that experienced husbands can fell when wives tire ubotit to ask for monoy by lho woy thoy puree their mouths.
A western editor eotiBoled u man who com- plained that justice lind not been dono him, by tho ii'inurk llinl it was " very lucky for him."
A lady who is trying to euro her hiiBbnnd of smoking has learned to Binoko tho wood herself, and complains that " it is rathor an oxpensivo
habit for two."
" Mamma," paid n little girl to her mothor, " do you know how I got to bed quick ?" " No," was the reply. " Well," said sho in great gloe, " I step ono foot over tho crib, thon I say 'rats,' and frighton myself right in."
Turin: aro two kiniU of what wo call bashful ness; Ibis, tho awkwardness of a booby, which a fow Btop« into tho world will convort unto tho portillen of a coxcomb j that, it consciousness which (ho most delicoto feelings produce, und the most extensive kuowlcdgo cannot always re-
A youno lady onco marriod o man by tho name of Dust against tho wish of her parents. After ti short timo they lived unhappily together, und sho returned to her father's houso j but ho refused to boo hor, snying, " Dust thou art, and unto dust thou bIiiiU return ¡" and sho got up und " diiBted."
Scene in a Newspaper Oppioe.-Editor : "Jinks, havo wo a full report of the prize fight?" Jinks: " Yes. sir ¡ every round in full.
Editor: " Well, now I'll write an editorial con- demning tho brutal Bport, and moko it strong, bo us to tickle our piouB renders. We must suit ull tustes ¡n a rescectublo daily." _ _
A merchant cunio into u prtnting-oflico a short timo buico, und, Bceing u pilo of pupors Iviti" on the table-it being publication day uiieiTouioiiiouBly belpod himself to a oopy, and said: "1 »'poso you don't toko any pay for just ono paper ?" " Not always," was tho reply. Shortly after tho printer ontored thomorohnnrs storo and culled for a pound of raisins, saying, "I B'poso you don't ohargo tinvtbiug when a fellow don't toko but ono pound ?" " No," Baid tho grocer, after seeing the disadvantage under which ho wiiB placed by his own stingy ¡Nibo rolity toward tho primer, and Bold, "When I get any moro nowBpapors from n printer I'll poy for them."