The Project Gutenberg eBook of The old house in the city

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: The old house in the city

Or, not forsaken

Author: Agnes Giberne

Release date: May 11, 2024 [eBook #73596]

Language: English

Original publication: London: John F. Shaw and Co, 1890


Transcriber's note: Unusual and inconsistent spelling is as printed.



He found Lettie seated on a corner of the wall.

The Old House in the City


Not Forsaken





New Edition









































IT was an old old house, situated somewhere near the central parts of London. The street was narrow and gloomy, branching off at right angles from a frequented thoroughfare, and the lofty uppermost stories, rising tier above tier, and closing in overhead, left but a narrow strip of heaven's blue visible to those below, even on the brightest and sunniest of days. It was neither bright nor sunny now, for twilight shrouded the giant city, and already its myriad lights twinkled through the gloom, in preparation for the coming hours of darkness. Dull indeed was this confined alley, with its old-fashioned buildings on either side, in the midst of which, on the right hand, at the farthest corner, stood the aged house already mentioned.

It had not always been so old. Once, in long past days, it had been a stately mansion of no small pretensions, forming the home of some wealthy city merchant, or, a little farther back, it may be, even of a nobleman himself. But that was over now. Noblemen and city merchants had alike been swept away in the hurrying tide westward, and the old mansion had sunk many grades in the scale of society.

A great change had taken place since those far-off days, one or two hundred years before! No delicately-nurtured ladies now, in silk and velvet, in paint and patches, went daintily up and down its broad oaken staircase. No gaily-attired young gallants, with tossing plumes and clinking swords, passed to and fro through its outer door. That massive portal was never closed now, for the old house was no longer a home, but only a mass of tightly-packed dwellings. No heavy coaches, drawn by fashionable Flemish mares, lumbered in stately grandeur through the narrow street. Far back in a distant horizon lay such dignities.

Ladies and gallants, velvets and plumes, Flemish mares and gorgeous splendour—who could dream of such terms in connection with this squalid neighbourhood? Who could look on those dirt-begrimed ceilings, and imagine brilliant candelabra suspended from their centres? Who could view the discoloured walls, and realize that they were once crowded with works of art? Who could glance at the bare unwashed rooms, and listen without an incredulous smile to the tale of velvet furniture and priceless decorations, which once graced those very apartments?

Gone for ever were those days of wealth and luxury. The old mansion had sunk into a mere tenement-house, crowded with carpenters, shoemakers, tailors, and porters, too often in the lowest depths of wretchedness.

It was a close summer's evening, and heavy oppression pervaded the atmosphere, though the sun had sunk below the horizon, and the last gleams of red light, finding their way through the dull mist overhead, had faded at length from the tallest chimney-tops. But no sweet breath of country freshness could penetrate so far through the city. No cooling breeze ever crept between the massive walls of the houses forming Ansty Court.

Work was over for the day—such work as was to be had, for too many in the old mansion and its neighbourhood were suffering the miseries of long-enforced idleness. Work was slack, and bread was hard—oh, hard to find!

Up and down the uneven staircase, with its shattered banisters and greasy walls, passed footsteps from time to time. No wonder! For over half a hundred human beings found shelter within the walls of this one house. Each room was a separate home. And such a home! The old familiar English tune, true of many a "sweet sweet home," could scarcely here have met with any response.

It was growing dark, and none of the passers-by, going slowly up or down with rounded shoulders and weary feet, noticed a small figure crouching in the most shady corner of the second landing. A mere bundle of ragged clothes it might be, but for a slight movement now and then, or a broken sob at intervals when no one was near. Looking more closely, it would have been seen that one bare arm was passed tightly over the other with a distressed pressure, while the little dusky fingers clutched firmly at the rags which scarcely sufficed to cover her. But there was no other sign of life, and an approaching footstep was the signal for a closer cowering against the wall, and a more absolute stillness, in evident dread of detection.

Footsteps were growing fewer now. Children had been called in from the dirty courtyard where they played all day, and had been consigned to the respective heaps of rags or straw which formed their beds. Many men yet lingered at the public-house, not far distant, striving to drown care and misery for a while, by a means which sunk themselves and their families day by day into yet deeper degradation. Others had already retired to such rest as might be obtained in crowded rooms, with half-famished children crying themselves to sleep for want of food.

For a while no one passed. Then again came another step, heavily mounting the old staircase. A woman's figure, dimly seen in the uncertain light, drew near, staggering a little, as if hardly able to maintain her footing. She was supporting herself against the wall, and the child in the corner cowered down more closely with renewed fear. In vain this time. Following the course of the wall, the woman came against the unexpected obstacle, nearly falling down, and then standing still with the question—

"What's this? Who are you?"

Reassured by the voice, which showed that the unsteady walk was not, at least, caused by a visit to the terrible gin-palace, the child rose and came a step forward, still clenching her arms across her chest; but there was no answer to the question.

"What are ye after here?" asked the woman again; and, though she spoke in hard tones, as of one whose sympathies had been well-nigh dried up by long trouble, yet she would not pass by the lonely child, as many a richer man or woman might have done, like the Priest and the Levite of old.

A quick sob, gasped out with heaving breath, answered her. The woman leant against the wall, and laid a hand upon the arm of the little wanderer.

"Tell me what's your name, child?"

"Ailie Carter," was the muttered reply, followed by the entreaty, "Oh, don't ye send me back!"

"Ailie Carter. Then your father's Jem Carter, as came a while ago to live in one of the cellars?"

"Yes, our house is down there. Oh, don't ye send me back!" came in renewed entreaty.

"Where's your mother, child?"

"She's took up," and Ailie sobbed, though with her arms pressed yet more tightly, as if fighting to conquer her tears. "And father's dyin'—and it's awful to be with him all alone. I daren't—oh, don't make me! I wants mother!" moaned Ailie.

"Jem Carter dyin'! Well, it's what we all come to," said the woman, with despairing composure. She had spoken to Jem Carter and his wife occasionally, and in daylight she would have known by sight the forlorn child now cowering in front of her. But her home was near the top of the house, and Ailie's at the bottom. And the Carters, like many in their position, had known better days, and lived much to themselves in their cellar.

"Jem Carter dyin'!" repeated the woman. "And where's your mother took, child?"

Ailie shuddered visibly. "The p'lice," she whispered. "Mother said she couldn't bear it no more—to see father dyin' and cravin' after food, and not a sup nor a morsel in the house to give him. She were just crazed with hearin' him moan and groan, all day an' night, an' she walked right into a baker's shop, an' seized a loaf with one hand,—and a lady's purse with lots o' beautiful gold was a-lyin' on the counter, an' mother clutched it. They said she meant to steal that too, but she didn't—she didn't," repeated Ailie, breaking into a wail, like an animal in pain. "She were just crazed, an' snatched at it like, but didn't never think what she were doing, and she only wanted the loaf for father. He did moan so for some'at, an' he's wastin' away for want."

"Same as the rest on us," said the woman shortly. "I've eaten nought to-day, and I'm like to drop. Well, if he's dyin', it'll soon be over wi' him."

"Don't ye send me back," entreated the child, with sobbing catches in her breath. "I'll only sit here, an' be ever so quiet. Oh, don't! Father's never spoke a word since I telled him mother was took, an' he clutches with his fingers, an' makes a groanin' noise down in his throat, an' looks—an' looks—oh, I can't go back," sobbed Ailie. "I'd sooner sleep in the street all night. If only mother was here!"

"It'll be long enough afore ye see anythin' of her again, I can promise ye," muttered the woman. "Here, come along with me, child. Mary Carter's done me a good turn afore now, mindin' the children when I couldn't be with them, and I'll spare ye a crust of bread, if it's the last we have left."

Slowly as before, she went up the broad staircase, the fringed edges of her cotton gown dragging from step to step, where in olden days rich trains of jewelled satin had been wont to sweep. Ailie kept alongside with her, clinging close to the shelter of the blackened wall, but asking no questions, and seemingly willing enough to follow wherever she might be led. She would not have gone so readily down the stairs as up them, perhaps.





A SMALL room in the top story but one of the house, was that to which Ailie was led by her companion, with one long narrow window, the broken diamond-shaped panes of glass being mended not untidily with rag. Being so high up in the confined street, such daylight as yet remained found freer entrance than below, and the darkness was some degrees less advanced than on the staircase and landings. Other similar windows might be seen in the building opposite, at a distance of some few yards, with haggard faces in them here and there.

If the room looked crowded, it was not at least with the presence of over much furniture. One broken bedstead stood in the corner, made to turn up clumsily in the daytime. Out of its coverings peeped three small heads, in various positions of careless repose. These were the infants, varying from six to three in age.

A rickety table occupied the centre of the room, and a man sat beside it on a chair, which had lost the upper half of its back. A large-built man in appearance, yet sickly-looking, with a hopeless expression of countenance, as he leant his head upon his hand, and gazed moodily on the floor.

Two idle looms stood against the wall, taking up much space, and doing little else, in this sad time of slack work. The only remaining chair was used by a dwarfish high-shouldered boy of ten or eleven, whose heavy head hung over the back, with dropping jaw, and half-opened eyes gazing into vacancy. Near him, extended listlessly on the floor, was a second boy, some two years older, tall, thin and feeble-looking, with wasted limbs showing through his tattered clothing, and honest eyes sparkling from beneath his brows. One of his knees, raised and crossing the other, formed a resting-place for a little girl of about seven or eight, whose large blue eyes, heavy with sleep, and delicate fairness of complexion, formed a curious contrast to other members of the family.

There was a hungry glance from those two at Esther Forsyth, as she entered the room, followed by a curious gaze at her companion. Such a mere scrag of a child it was, standing in the doorway, with black eyes, alike timid and eager, short black hair pushed behind her ears in an attempt at neatness, and thin bare arms. She did not look more than nine years old, but age is hard to guess among these stunted city children.

"Well," John Forsyth said briefly. "Got any work, Esther? No need to ask, I s'pose," and he sighed. "What's that child for?"

"John, did you know Jem Carter was a-dyin'?"

"Dyin'! No, I knowed he couldn't last long. What's to do about him?"

Esther slowly removed her ragged bonnet and shawl before answering.

"No, I've got no work," she said at length, in a calm tone, which was far removed from indifference. "Seems to me there's none to be had. I don't know what we'll come to. Have ye had your supper, all of ye?"

"I gave it the little ones—the crusts as was left for them," came in soft tones from the blue-eyed child upon the floor. "Father wouldn't take none, nor Hor wouldn't."

"Nor Lettie didn't want to, neither, but I made her," said the elder boy,—adding abruptly, "Mother, there hasn't a crumb passed your lips this day. D'ye think we'll eat up all, an' see you starve afore our faces?"

Esther went to the little cupboard, and brought out a small plate of crusts. "It's all there is," she said. "There ain't much left now as is worth puttin' in pawn, and if work don't come—" Then after a pause, "John, we'll spare the child a bit."

"Take it out your own children's mouths to put into a stranger's!" said John, moodily.

"She's eaten nought to-day, have ye, Ailie?"

"No, nor since yesterday morning," responded Ailie, with longing eyes.

Esther cast an appealing look at her husband.

"Do as ye will," he said shortly. "I'm not the man to refuse a crust when I can afford un."

Esther silently distributed the contents of the little blue plate. Ailie grasped with famished eagerness at the dry bread held out to her. She did not eat it quickly, however. The pleasure was too real and delicious to be soon ended, so she bit off small pieces, and constrained herself to munch them slowly, working her way across the room while doing so, till she found herself within two paces of the little girl, who thereupon beckoned her to come and sit down upon the floor. Ailie obeyed the invitation immediately, and stared hard at her and the boy.

"We're a queer couple, ain't we?" said the latter, with a twinkle of amusement in his hollow eyes. "Leastways, you seems to think so. What's wrong with us, eh?"

"What's your name?" asked Ailie, taking another bite.

"Mine's a jolly name, ain't it, Lettie? I'm Horatio Nelson Forsyth."

Ailie thought that grand indeed, and gazed with rounded fascinated eyes.

"Lettie calls me Hor, and so does most folks; but I like more particular to be called Nelson. He was a real man, you see, as I was named after—the biggest sailor ever lived, an' beat all his enemies to nothin', an' I'd like to do the same."

"You couldn't," said Ailie, grieved to see how her crust was diminishing.

"Maybe not; but I'd like it just—wouldn't I? I'll be a sailor some day, an' live on the sea in a big ship."

"What's the sea like?" asked Ailie.

"Why, lots o' water. I haven't never seen it—more's the pity—but folks say it's grand—all a-splashin' and a-dashin', with white spray flyin' through the air."

"What's spray?" asked Ailie.

"Well, I don't know as I could say 'xactly, but I fancy it's a bit like mother's soap-suds when she washes up," said Hor confidentially.

"Soap-suds ain't pretty a bit," said Ailie.

"Spray's pretty, if soap isn't—I know that. Lettie, here, don't care for me to talk about the sea. It's the country she wants—eh, Lettie?"

"I'd like a lot o' green ever so much," said Lettie.

"See if I don't get you a real plant some o' these days, and a nice red flower, all for yourself, Lettie."

"I'd a deal rather it should be white," murmured Lettie wistfully. "Mayn't it, Hor?"

"I'd have it red, if I was you," said Ailie, with eager eyes—"ever such a bright red—like—like—oh, like a man's coat."

"Like a soldier's coat," suggested Hor. "Lettie likes white flowers best, ye see."

"Lettie, it's time ye should be off to bed," said Esther. "Don't ye want any more, Ailie?"

Ailie looked from the two remaining inches of hard dry crust to Esther Forsyth's face, and then back again.

"I just do," she said expressively. "But there's father."

A momentary look of softening came over Esther's lined hard features—hard only outwardly, for there lay a tender woman's heart beneath. Only, so much of its tenderness had been frozen by long years of pressure, that it was not readily melted into expression. The growth of dull reserve and impassive endurance, which had gathered closely over her once open-hearted nature, was not easily broken through. Still, for an instant her eyes wore a look of softness, as she said—

"Ailie's a good girl to think of her father, isn't she now, John?"

"Aye," responded John, shortly. "What be you a-going to do with her?"

Esther looked at Ailie, and Ailie cowered in renewed fear.

"Oh, don't ye—don't ye send me back," she entreated. "I'll let him have my bread. I won't be in nobody's way. I'll sleep on the stairs, ever so quiet. Oh, don't ye send me back."

"'Twould be cruel to send her alone," said Esther. "A bit of a child like that—and he dyin'."

John's assent was a monosyllable. Poor, hopeless, weary, they might be themselves; nevertheless, that they should help a neighbour in his sorer trouble was but a thing of course.

"Mother, I'll take down Ailie, an' see what's wantin'," suggested Horatio, sitting up. He had been wandering for hours through the streets, poor boy, vainly seeking for employment, while barely recovered from a severe attack of low fever, and subsisting on a mere scrap of bread. Esther shook her head.

"Ye've been on the tramp all day, and you're fit for nothin' but sleep. I'll go with Ailie myself."

"You've been nigh as long on the tramp yourself, mother."

"A boy's little use in a sick-room," said Esther. "Get to bed, Lettie and Roger—an' you too, Hor. I'll be back when I can."

Taking the child's hand in her own, she left the room again, and Ailie went submissively, though trembling. Down one flight of stairs after another they made their way, Esther walking more steadily now, perhaps strengthened by her little taste of supper. Perhaps the very act of caring for others imparted vigour to herself.

Not that it was done with the highest motives. Not that Esther had any thought of "serving the Lord." No such Heavenly light shone in upon the Forsyth's dreary home as would have come from trust in a Heavenly Father's watchful love. If the good seed had ever been sown in Esther's heart, the pressing cares of poverty had long ago stifled its growth, and smothered out the germ of life. She and her husband had struggled long in past years to retain a respectable appearance, but of late a cloud seemed to have settled down upon them all.

John was not an unsteady man in the main, but sometimes, in the mere longing to escape from idleness, and its attendant train of miseries, he fled to the public-house, and, once there, what wonder if he stayed too long, and took too much? The crowded room which formed his home could indeed offer small attractions.

Esther bore it all silently—bore it as she bore everything else, with a kind of dogged patience. Down in her heart the canker-worm of hopelessness was sapping the springs of energy. But for her children, she could have lain down without a wish ever to rise again. For love of them she strove on, sought work, denied herself, and lived a life of silent endurance. But it was so long now since all regular work had failed, that the old struggle for at least the appearance of respectability was dying out. They were growing used to rags and tatters, and scanty clothing—worse still, even to want of cleanliness. What was the use of striving? When failing for lack of food, and sinking with the long day's search for the means of livelihood, Esther was in no state for "cleaning up," she would have said.

And yet the woman's heart of sympathy beat still beneath that soiled cotton gown. She could not see Ailie Carter in distress, and not do the little in her power to help.





DOWN flight after flight went Esther Forsyth and little Ailie Carter. One or two rough men, returning from the public-house, staggered past them, and Ailie crept closer to her protector's side. One or two "women, dressed in unwomanly rags," came up the stairs, and exchanged a word of greeting with Esther.

Still they went on—past the second story, past the first story, past the ground-floor; past open doors, showing sleeping children huddled in rags; past closed doors, from which came the wailing of hungry infants; past other doors, whence issued sadder sounds of raised voices and angry discord. Past all these, and down stone stairs, leading to underground regions, where the air weighed heavy and dank. And then they stopped at a door.

Esther Forsyth pushed it open and went in, the child creeping after.

A bare cellar lay before them. Furniture had been parted with, piece by piece, in the long struggle for subsistence. Nothing of it was left, save the thin flock-bed in one corner, and the single broken chair in the middle. A tallow candle, in a candlestick, stood upon the chair, casting a glow upon the damp walls, the small window, and the sallow face of the sick man on his wretched couch. Nothing of sheet or blanket was visible—only an old piece of dirty carpet drawn over the sufferer. An old pipe and a tin saucepan stood side by side upon the mantel-shelf; and that was all.

Jem Carter was not alone. An aged woman stood beside him, and she turned her withered face towards the door when Esther entered.

"Be that Ailie Carter?" she demanded, in a hoarse whisper. "He be axin' after her sore, an' no one could tell nought of where she was. An' she a leavin' of her father to die alone, like a rat in a hole."

A cry broke from Ailie's lips.

"No, no—I didn't mean—" she gasped, with half-sobs of excitement and fear. "O, father, I wouldn't ha' left you—if—if—"

"Poor Ailie!" he strove to say, and his helpless hand tried to reach out towards her. "Who'll take care o' ye now, I wonder?"

"Father, don't go an' die," sobbed Ailie. "Mother's gone, too, and I'll have nobody—"

Jem Carter gave a heavy groan.

"Ah! Me—I little thought ever wife o' mine 'ud be a thief,—locked up in jail!" And a sob burst from the very heart of the dying man. "I'll never see her again. Ailie, mind ye tell her from me—"

The labouring voice ceased, and they listened in vain. The old woman had retired a few paces, but Esther Forsyth stood close beside the flock-bed, for Ailie was there, and her grasp on Esther's tattered gown was that of a vice.

"Tell her what?" asked Esther, after a minute of silence.

No reply came, and Ailie spoke timidly—

"Father, won't ye take a bit o' bread?"

"He's past eatin', child," said the old woman. "Let him die in peace, an' don't ye go to disturb him, if he'll do it quiet."

Some echo of the words seemed to reach the failing ear. He opened his eyes, and fixing them full on Esther, he muttered slowly—

"Die in peace! Die in peace! I'll never see Mary again. I'll be gone afore she's free. An' where will I be gone?"

It was an awful question, dropping from the ashen lips of that dying man, tottering upon the verge of a dark eternity. No answer came from his hearers—from the old woman, or from Esther Forsyth, or from poor little Ailie. What answer could they give? They hoped he would sink again into stupor, and "die quiet." But the hollow eyes looked from one to another in appeal.

"Where will I be gone?" repeated Jem. "I've nought to do with dyin' in peace—not I. What's them lines I once learned, or somebody telled me?—

"'There is a dreadful hell,
    With darkness, fire, an' chains.'

"What's the rest, Ailie?"

"Oh, father, don't ye—don't ye," sobbed Ailie, in distress.

"Come, don't ye be in a taking, Carter," said Esther, trying to cheer him. "You've been a steady man enough, off an' on, and it's little o' drink that's passed your lips o' late."

"Drink!" repeated Jem; and then a strange look passed over the face looking up into hers. "Maybe I've not drunk as much as some. Maybe I've wanted to live respectable, and couldn't manage it neither. Will that take me to heaven, woman?"

The question came almost fiercely from between his parted lips, through which the labouring breath passed to and fro.

"'Tis little we poor folks has to do with heaven," she said.

"It's little you know," responded Jem Carter. "Wasn't it the poor, an' not the rich—somebody said. But I minds nothin' now. It's all gone. An' there's no one to say a word—an' I'm dyin'."

"Can't ye tell him what he wants?" sobbed Ailie.

"Can't nobody tell?"

"Can't nobody tell?" echoed the dry failing lips. "Mrs. Forsyth, can ye mind nothin' o' what I once heard?"

"I didn't know ye then," she said, with an effort to rack her memory for some dim recollection of the "sweet story of old," with which in childhood she had not been wholly unfamiliar. But it would not come. "There's nobody here as knows nothin'."

Nobody! Not one to bring a ray of light into the deep darkness of that poor benighted soul. Not one to hold the cup of life to those dying lips.

Awhile they kept silence, broken only by the deep breathing from the flock-bed. The old woman fidgeted about, and muttered to herself. Esther stood still, with the child clinging to her dress.

"He'll die easy now," she whispered encouragingly, and she hoped it might be so. But the closed eyes opened again, and wandered to and fro distressfully; and the word "Parson" was whispered more than once.

"An' where be we to find a parson?" the old woman demanded in her ignorance. "Likely a parson 'ud come to this hole, at this time o' night. Tell ye what, Mrs. Forsyth, if ye'll stay here a bit, I'll go an' settle off my old man, an' then come back an' stay, so as ye can go. 'Tain't fair to leave him alone like this, and ye'll have enough to do wi' your own six brats."

The proposition, though rough, was kindly. Esther made no objection, but only stood, after the old woman's departure, looking down fixedly as before upon the occupant of the flock-bed. There was a stirring of old memories in her mind. They had not answered to the call when she sought for them, but somehow they were working now. She hardly knew what impulse made her say bluntly, as she marked the knitted brows—

"Why don't ye pray, if ye're so fearsome?"

"Who be I to pray to?" demanded Jem. "I tell you I knows nought of such things."

"There was a thief as didn't know more," said Esther, uncertainly.

"I'm not a thief. I'm an honest man. I've prided myself all my life on bein' an honest man." Jem broke off there, with a sigh, at the thought of his wife. "'Tain't honesty as 'll take me to heaven, though; I knows that plain enough. Tell about the thief; I'd like to hear."

"I've forgotten nigh all. 'Twas old granny as used to tell me, when I was a slip of a child, an' she'd show me the pictures in her big Bible, but it's 'most gone from me now. I only knows it was a thief, an' he was a-dyin', an' he prayed—leastways he says a few words—'Lord, remember me when Thou comest'—I don't remember no more. 'Comest' somewhere; I've forgot."

"An' you can't remember it?" asked Jem despondingly. "Maybe I might say the words, if I knowed 'em. But I ain't a thief; I never was. Who was it he said the words to?"

"Why, Him as died same time, somehow," said Esther, with reluctance. "I tell you I've forgot; only I know he said them words to Him—to Jesus, as was nailed upon a Cross, wasn't He?"

Very doubtfully, and somewhat shamefacedly, too, she spoke; but like a strain of sweet music fell the sound of that holy Name upon the ears of the dying man. "Why," he said, with sudden energy, "'twas He, sure, as said that about the poor an' not the rich, somebody once telled me. Go on quick, woman."

Esther fidgeted with the edges of her tattered gown. "It's pretty nigh all gone from me," she said; "only I know He somehow telled the thief as he was to go straight to heaven that day."

"The thief was to?"

"Yes, the thief," repeated Esther. "And he hadn't done more than that bit of a prayer, neither."

"Maybe I wouldn't be heard if I was to ask too," muttered Jem.

Esther looked round involuntarily round at the dark abode of misery. This dreary cellar—was it possible that a dying prayer, uttered in such a place, could by any possibility ascend upwards—could escape through all the damp, and dirt, and oppression which weighed upon the very air—could pass onwards, higher and higher, to the pure blue sky far above the great city's wretchedness—could rise yet farther upwards till it reached the throne of God Himself? Esther did not put the question in words, but she felt something like it, and shook her head.

"Maybe not. We haven't much to do with prayin' hereabouts," she said bitterly. "I've nigh forgotten the meanin' o' the word."

Seemingly passing into stupor, Jem Carter lay, his hand flung out on the torn carpet which formed his covering. Presently the old woman came back, and, seeing that there was nothing more to be done, Esther took her departure. The old woman settled herself down on a little heap of rags in one corner, and was soon nodding and rocking drowsily. Ailie crept to her habitual resting-place at the foot of the flock-bed, and there, wearied out, she dropped asleep.

Was it night when she awoke? She sat up, and rubbed her eyes. Yes, darkness still, except for the fitful flashes of the half-expiring candle, with its unsnuffed wick. The broken back of the chair, on which it stood, was reflected in huge bars of shadow against the walls. Ailie watched them as they moved to and fro, and then she glanced at her father's face. How ghastly it looked, lying back on the bundle of rags which served for a pillow, while one bony hand was folded over the other. Ailie sat more upright.

"Father, father," she whispered. Was he living still?

She did not venture to speak aloud. The midnight silence was broken sharply by the step and voice of a drunken man, reeling along outside the window. Ailie shivered at the sound. She could see the old woman across the cellar, not nodding now, but fast asleep, her gray head leaning against the damp wall. Ailie dared not rouse her, but watched her father's face in aching fear; and all at once, he opened his eyes.

Dull eyes they were, yet they recognized his little girl, and she whispered "Father!"

"I ain't a thief, Ailie, but maybe He'd hear me," said Jem.

"I'd try," said Ailie.

Jem Carter looked up, glanced round, gazed at the bare floor, the bare walls, the bare ceiling. "There's nobody to speak to," he said. "Ailie, can't ye do it for me?"

Ailie did not need to ask his meaning; she understood it as well as he did himself. She had never been taught to kneel and clasp her hands in prayer, like so many happier little ones; but, after a moment's hesitation, she folded her arms together, looked into the darkest corner of the cellar, and said in a frightened undertone:

"Please remember father, like the thief. He wants it ever so much. Please don't forget father. Please do remember him.

"Will that do, father?" asked Ailie.

"Please, Lord, remember me when Thou comest," muttered Jem Carter after her. "There's nobody else to help. Please have mercy, Jesus, that was nailed up on a Cross. I don't know nothin' more about it."

And once more Ailie chimed in earnestly, "Oh, please do remember father.

"Don't you think He will now, father? 'Cause the thief didn't only ask Him once, an' we've done it three times. Don't you think He won't forget you now, father?"

Was there a smile on the dying face? Ailie thought so. But nothing more was said, and he seemed to fall asleep. Ailie, too, sank off again, and did not wake a second time till daylight was creeping in through the window.

The old woman was the first to rouse herself. She shook her limbs, grumbled at her hard couch, rose with difficulty, and walked across the cellar.

There on the flock-bed lay Jem Carter—silent, motionless, with closed eyes, and powerless hands. And there across his feet lay little Ailie, with one arm thrown under her head, and a troubled look in her childish face. Poor little fatherless Ailie!

Yes, he was dead! Untended and unwatched, he had passed away from his cellar-home. But the one faint cry to the Saviour of the world, out of the depths of his darkness, was surely not unheard, and poor Jem Carter, in his last extremity, was surely not "forgotten."




SOMEWHAT late the following evening, John Forsyth walked into his room, and sat down at the table. Esther opened her lips to speak, but shut them again hastily, as she noted his moody expression. He glanced at the younger children, huddled in a heap upon the floor, and frowned at the sight of Ailie Carter, curled up asleep in a corner, Lettie being seated by her side, as if keeping guard over the forlorn little stranger.

"What's that child here for?" he demanded.

"She's got nowhere else to go to," responded Esther.

"Got no supper for me, I s'pose," said John gruffly.

Esther went to the cupboard, and brought thence a hunch of bread and a lump of cheese. John disposed of them both in silence, with the expedition of a man who has not broken fast for many hours.

"How did you get it?" he asked shortly, pushing aside the cracked plate.

"Hor earned a shillin' with runnin' of errands and doing jobs. I've give the children some, and there's some over for to-morrow. It won't do to eat up all, John," as she detected a hungry gleam in his eyes.

"An' there be the rent as well," said John despondingly. "You've been a-giving more to that there child, Esther."

"Would ye wish to see her starvin' afore our faces?" asked Esther. "What of her mother?"

"Two months in jail," said John laconically. "Went to the station-house myself, an' heard it all. There was a deal o' talk, an' one man he wanted to make out as she was a hardened offender, but that wouldn't stand. She hadn't never been in trouble before, she said, and they found it was true, leastways they couldn't find no proof to the contrary. She pleaded guilty to taking the loaf, but wouldn't agree to the purse—she didn't know why she touched it at all, and she was certain sure she had never meant to take it. There was a laugh at that, an' 'twas easy to see no one believed the poor thing. She sobbed a bit, when they first brought her up, but after that she stood quiet, an' they said—one on 'em—that she was sullen, and he didn't believe as it was her first offence."

"She were as honest as the day till then," said Esther.

"They couldn't tell that, an' they didn't know how she had been nigh crazed by all she had borne. 'Twasn't done in her sober senses, I do believe. There was a long tale made out o' the purse, an' the lady wanted to prove as there was an accomplice as called off her attention, so as Mrs. Carter might whisk it off the counter where it was laid; but nobody hadn't seen no accomplice, unless 'twas little Ailie, an' when some one spoke o' the child, the poor thing called out quite indignant, an' seemed as if she couldn't bear the thought. They questioned her more then, an' she answered steady and sensible, that she had never thought what she was going to do, but she'd sold all she had, an' walked about all day a-huntin' for work, and she and her child was half-starved, an' her husband a-dyin'.

"'Aye, an' he's died in the night, has poor Jem Carter,' says I, speakin' up loud, 'died for want o' the food which none o' you gentlemen knows what it is to be without.'

"They did look shocked at that, all of 'em, an' Mrs. Carter, she gave a little cry, an' turned white-like. They was sorry for her, all on 'em. I could see that plain enough, and they didn't talk no more of puttin' off her trial to the Quarter Sessions, which was the thing as she had seemed to dread most. Some wouldn't have give her more than a month, I fancy, but one old gentleman, he muttered out that people couldn't be let steal, if they was starvin', and examples must be made.

"Mrs. Carter seemed like one nigh stupid, an' never lifted her head, not even when they told her her punishment. And the lady, whose purse it was she took, came near to crying, and said she wished the poor thing could ha' been let off altogether—she was so sorry for her, left a widow alone like that."

"An' how ye could go and tell her all of a sudden!" said Esther, reproachfully.

"I didn't think when I spoke, and it did good too, for they'd ha' given her longer imprisonment but for that. 'Twas her being caught, ye see, with the loaf in one hand, an' the purse in the other, which made so much o' the matter, an' she wouldn't plead guilty to the purse—she didn't scarce know she had touched it, she said, an' others declared she was a-carryin' it off. An' what do they know of the home and the misery as drove her to it?" said John bitterly. "I've felt nigh bein' driv to something desperate myself, before now of late. Anyway she's caged up now for two months, till fourth o' November. That child ain't going to stay here, Esther."

"Where be she to go?" asked Esther in a compassionate tone.

"She ain't a-going to stay here," repeated John, doggedly. "I've give way once, as ye know, to takin' in other folks' children—no need to go into that now. I never grumbles at what's done, and I loves her now like to my own; but I ain't a-going to do it a second time. We've enough an' to spare of our own."

"What'll we do with her?" asked Esther.

"There's the work'us," said John. "I'll take her there myself to-morrow. Ye needn't say a word against it."

"And her poor mother, as prided herself on never takin' a grain of help from the parish," said Esther.

"She must take the consequence o' her own deed," said John, somewhat less indulgent towards her himself, than he had perhaps expected the magistrates to be. "Starvin' or no starvin', 'twas stealin', and she must put up with the consequence. There's no one left as belongs to the child, an' to the work'us she'll go."

Ailie never moved or spoke, but she was not asleep. Every word had fallen on her ears like a blow. Mother in prison for two months—two whole months. O what a long time it seemed to poor little Ailie! She could scarcely have felt more hopeless at the prospect of two years' separation. And then to be sent away herself—away to the workhouse—away, all alone; among utter strangers. She had been brought up with such a horror of the workhouse; prison itself sounded hardly worse to her. Not that she knew anything about what kind of a place it was, except that her mother's one great dread for months past, and her father's too, had been that of "coming to the workhouse." What would mother think of her being there? Poor Ailie forgot or did not understand that the lesser disgrace of dependence on the parish would be swallowed up in the far deeper disgrace of trial and imprisonment for theft.

Worst of all to Ailie was the thought of her mother coming home at the far-off end of those two months, and finding her child gone. What if she didn't know where to go, and never found Ailie, and Ailie never saw her again! Ailie cried silently at the thought. She could not, could not go. She must wait here for mother; she would be a trouble to no one, and eat so little, and sleep anywhere, and creep into corners—only she couldn't go away.

How to avoid it, Ailie did not know. At first she thought she would beg John Forsyth to change his mind, but when she opened her eyes softly and peeped at him, he looked so moody that she dared not speak. Then she thought that she would slip off, and hide herself in some dark secret place, until—oh, until there was hope that they might change their minds. She knew of many a hole and corner in the old rambling house, but to escape at present, without remark, was impossible, and she determined to bide her time.

What was to be done with her this night she did not know; neither did Esther. There was certainly no vacant space for her in the overcrowded apartment. A young widow living in the next room, with only three small children of her own, offered to take in Ailie, much to the relief of all parties. She slept there quietly on her heap of straw, and shared the children's scanty breakfast; but, after that, she watched for the first opportunity to slip unobserved out of the room, and to run down-stairs.

What she meant to do with herself Ailie had no very clear idea. Her one aim was to escape from John Forsyth, in dread of being walked off to the workhouse. A house of terror it was to her, in truth, and her greatest terror of all was the childish dread that if she once went away her mother would never find her again. Her one wish now was to be where John Forsyth could not discover her. The old court at the back of the house would not do. He would naturally look for her there, among the crowd of neglected little ones who spent hours every day in playing and quarrelling together over the mud, stones, and old oyster-shells there to be found. She dared not be seen on the staircase or in the passages. He might walk down any one of them. She would not loiter about in the street, for he would be sure to pass there.

Creeping at length into a dark corner, under the pile of lumber, refuse, and ruin which blocked up the empty space under the staircase, she settled herself into as easy a position as possible, and there decided to remain. They were not likely to seek for her in such a spot.

She congratulated herself not a little on her hiding-place, half an hour later, when she heard a heavy step coming down over her head, and John Forsyth's voice demanding, in evident annoyance—

"I say, can any o' you tell me what's become o' Carter's little girl?"

"Ailie Carter," croaked the old woman who had kept watch by her dying father's side. "No, not I. Where have she been all night?"

"Sleepin' with Mrs. Crane. If I catch her, she shan't forget the trouble she's a-giving us—running away and a-hindering like this! But I can't wait in no longer. If she thinks she's going to live on us, she's mistaken."

He went away grumbling, and Ailie did not breathe freely till he was out of hearing. She dared not let herself be seen even then, though aware that he would now be absent for hours on the search for work. If found, she would doubtless be watched till he returned, and then taken off to the workhouse. Ailie had set her whole heart upon not going there. She sat on resolutely in her dark close corner—hungry, cramped, and miserable, but enduring all, hour after hour, with a steadfast patience, unknown to more tenderly-nurtured children. It was nothing unusual to her to fast during a whole day.

But time passed slowly, and Ailie grew wretched and forlorn, as the hours went on. She slept a good deal, and listened to what went on overhead, and sometimes cried quietly; but she never thought of giving way, and coming out. She would do or bear anything in her power to escape going to the workhouse. She must wait for mother—poor mother, away in jail! Ailie longed so to see her again.

And poor father, too—not twenty-four hours dead. Ailie's little heart swelled and ached at the thought of him, and of that short midnight waking, which seemed now so very far away. How she wondered if the story told by Esther had come true, and if he had been remembered—by—Ailie did not exactly know whom. She had been brought up in such utter ignorance, that she knew scarcely more than the Name of God. She had never heard the Name of Jesus till it fell from the lips of Esther in her hearing.

Still, she knew her father had feared something, had wanted something, had asked to be remembered by some one, and she wondered much if he had had his wish, and how he could have had it. Ailie wished some one would remember her. Not the Forsyths; she only wanted to keep out of their way. But some rich kind person—if such a person would come and look after poor little Ailie, and give her plenty to eat, and let her stay where she was till mother came back, and give her a clean frock, instead of these rags—oh, how nice it would be!

Not much hope of all that, but it soothed Ailie to sit and fancy it. It made her forget her hunger and thirst for a while. And, in the middle of her fancying, she fell asleep, and dreamt that little Lettie came running up, and took her by the hand to lead her away. Ailie was frightened at first, and tried to draw back, but Lettie pulled her forward, and then took her a long walk, through many streets, till Ailie was footsore and weary, and wanted to rest. But all at once they stood before a door, which somebody opened, and Ailie found herself in a bright room, with nicely-dressed ladies smiling on her, and a long table covered with tea and bread and butter and cake. And then, just as a great plateful was set before Ailie, and she was going to begin to eat, the table and the ladies and the room faded away, and Ailie woke to find herself in her dark dusty corner, more hungry than ever.

How bitterly poor Ailie sobbed to herself, and how she did wish that she had slept a little longer, so that she might at least have dreamt that her hunger was satisfied!





"HOR," said little Lettie meditatively, on the afternoon of the following day, "don't you wonder what's become of Ailie?"

Hor had just returned from his daily ramble in search of employment. Little hope had he now of finding regular work—he had tried so long in vain; but still he contrived to earn a few pence in various ways, and those who had once employed him did not soon forget his honest look. To-day he had returned earlier than usual, and, after depositing his earnings with his mother, went out into the yard. There he found Lettie, seated on a corner of the broken-down wall, overlooking the three little ones, who made high glee with a mud puddle near at hand.

"Mother says nothin' more ain't been seen of her," said Hor. "Queerest thing I ever heard of. Seems as if some'at wrong must have happened to the poor little lass."

"Father was askin' about her this mornin'," said Lettie. "He says he can't do no more. Mother thinks some one must ha' taken her off."

"Don't seem much sense in that, neither," said Hor. "She hadn't on a scrap o' clothes as would fetch sixpence. More likely—well, I don't know—but maybe it's a fancy o' the little thing herself. P'raps she's gone off, thinkin' she'll find her mother. I shouldn't wonder."

"Hor," said Lettie deliberately, "Ailie wasn't asleep, but only pretendin', when father talked o' the work'us for her."

"Wasn't she?" cried Hor.

"I'm sure I see her open one eye, an' shut it up again tight; an' she was cryin' after, when you all thought she was a-sleepin'."

"Why didn't you tell us?" asked Hor.

"I didn't like. Poor Ailie! Hor, I wouldn't like the work'us," said Lettie. "Isn't it a dreadful cruel place?"

Hor whistled. "Not as I knows on. Folks say we'd ought to think ourselves well off, to have it to go to. But 'tain't pleasant to be a-livin' on charity."

"What's charity?" asked Lettie, with wondering eyes. "Is it some sort o' nasty victuals?"

"Victuals—no. Livin' on charity means—means—why, it's same thing as being a beggar."

"You ain't a beggar, nor Ailie wasn't, neither."

"She's one now, poor little lass, if I ain't much mistaken," said Hor. "'Tain't likely she'll get much to eat by any other means, except a-begging, wherever she be."

"Is mother a beggar?" asked Lettie.

"Mother! No!" cried Hor. "What's put into your head to ask such a question?"

"Nor father, neither?" inquired Lettie.

"No, nor none of us, nor never will be, so long as father 'n I have an arm to work."

"Nor isn't I a beggar?" asked Lettie, reaching the climax towards which she had been ascending.

"No more than the rest on us," said Hor.

Lettie nestled up a little closer to Hor's ragged jacket. "Hor," she whispered softly, "didn't ye hear what father said yesterday—?"

"Well?" said Horatio.

"About other folks' children," said Lettie, with an effort. "If father got tired o' me, an' wasn't to want to have me no longer, I'd have to be a beggar, then, wouldn't I?"

"Likely he'll get tired o' you!" cried Hor. "I'd work for ye then! He didn't say nought o' the kind, though."

"He did say some'at about never doin' it again, an' he said he'd give way to mother once, but he wasn't goin' to twice," said Lettie. It was strange to hear that tiny fair-haired child discussing the matter so calmly. "An' he did say once, when mother gave a bit to Ailie, that 'twas taken out o' his own children's mouths."

"You're one of us. 'Tain't like Ailie. She's a stranger, an' you're every inch our sister. Don't think o' that again! Father didn't mean nothing; he's only bothered an' worried, an' don't hardly know what he's about. I say, that ain't Ailie, sure!"

A little figure, crouching in the shadow of the wall, attracted his attention, and he made a sudden bound forward, but before he could reach the spot, it had vanished, and after-searching proved useless. He gave up at length, and almost ascribed the whole to fancy.

Yet it was Ailie herself that he had seen—Ailie, after a second long day of concealment and fasting, venturing at length to creep out in search of food. She felt very weak and craving, but she had not dared to appear earlier, lest John Forsyth should find her and take her off to the workhouse that night. The more feeble grew her little frame, the stronger waxed her dread of going thither—unreasoning childish dread, but none the less real for that.

Hearing Horatio's exclamation, and seeing him run towards her, she had fled with all speed, and rushed round the side of the house, and into the street, before he saw the direction she had taken.

There, without delaying a moment, though with shaking limbs and heaving breath, she hurried along, and never stopped till she found herself at the entrance of the broad neighbouring thoroughfare, with its handsome shops; its plate glass windows, full of dresses, bonnets, and ribbons; its bakers and confectioners, more tempting still; its strings of cabs and carriages; and its crowds of well-dressed foot-passengers on the pavement.

Ailie had never yet known what it was to beg. But now she felt so hungry and weak and faint, that she longed to ask the passers-by to give her something, as she stood in a little sheltered corner, close to a shop-window. Sometimes she tried to begin to say, "Please give me a penny," but each time the words seemed to stick and swell in her throat, and no sound came.

If only she could rest somewhere; she was so tired—oh, so tired and thirsty. There was a drinking-fountain not far distant, and she dragged her failing limbs there, and drank some of the fresh water out of the tin cup, but that made her feel more hungry than ever. If poor mother could but come to help her! Ailie felt so utterly alone. Nobody in all the world to care for her, except mother, away for two months in jail—nobody else except the Forsyths, and she dared not go near them, for they would only send her to the workhouse. Ailie was so desolate that she wanted to cry, but somehow tears would not come, and the dry sobs which she could not check made her feel worse and worse.

A baker's shop stood just across the way with such tempting beautiful wonderful loaves in the window Ailie thought that to have one of those loaves would be perfect happiness. She would care for nothing else in all the world then. Such an unhappy-looking child passed at that moment, dressed in white muslin, and with two great buns in her hand. How could she look unhappy when she had two whole buns of her own? Ailie did wonder at the sight. Not that she wanted buns herself. She only wanted some bread—ever so dry, ever so hard, ever so little—just to check this burning terrible hunger. And, leaning against the wall, Ailie sobbed again tearless sobs of anguish.

"What's the matter?" asked a voice, and Ailie looked up. A little girl of about her own age stood in front of her, dressed in a pretty pink frock, with a straw hat and one long black feather across it, and delicately-gloved hands, which were folded over a tiny terrier lying asleep in her arms. She gazed wonderingly at Ailie. "What's the matter?" she repeated. "Have you had a beating?"

"No," said Ailie.

"Or have you spilt some milk, or broken a jug? That's like the poor little girls in story-books," added the child to herself.

"I'm so hungry," whispered Ailie, hanging her head.

"Why don't you go home to tea?" asked the little girl.

"I've nowhere to go," said Ailie, in a choked voice.

"Why, where do you live?"

"I've been under the stairs all night, an' they wants to send me to the work'us—and, oh! I don't want to go," sobbed Ailie, with catches in her breath.

"Won't they give you anything to eat?" asked the other child, gravely.

"There's nobody. Father's dead, an' mother—an' mother—"

"Is your mother dead too?"

"They've put her in jail."

"Jail! Is that prison? Why she must be very wicked if they put her there," said the little girl. "What did she do?"

The shame of her mother's disgrace came over Ailie, as she noted the little girl's dainty boots draw back a pace.

"Mother was starvin', an' father dyin' for want; an' she took-she took a loaf," said Ailie.

"That was stealing," said the little girl decisively. "It's very wicked indeed to steal, and I don't wonder they put her in jail. Everybody's punished that steals, you know. But who takes care of you?"


"What's the matter?" she repeated. "Have you had a beating?"

"Miss Josie! Now I never!" exclaimed a respectably-dressed attendant, coming up, hot and breathless, from a gossip with an acquaintance. "As sure as I turn my eyes, you're in mischief. Talking to a dirty little street girl, coming from no one knows where."

"She's starving, nurse," said Josie.

"They're every man, woman, and child of them starving all the year round, if you'll believe them," said nurse contemptuously. "Miss Josie, come on this minute."

"I wish I had my penny," sighed Josie. "I do wish I hadn't bought that doll. Nurse, couldn't the little girl come home for my other penny—and wouldn't that buy her a roll, and keep her from starving?"

"No, indeed," said nurse wrathfully. "Telling strange beggar-children to come to our house, indeed! How d'ye know she isn't just getting over the scarlet fever, or small-pox, or anything else?"

"Are you, little girl?" asked Josie, in straightforward style.

"I ain't been ill—I'm only a-starving," said Ailie.

"Then you'd better go home and get your parents to feed you," said nurse. "Miss Josie, come on this minute."

"She hasn't got any parents—at least, one's dead and her mother's in prison," cried Josie, getting into a passion. "Nurse, do lend me a penny."

"I'm not going to encourage them beggars," said nurse resolutely. "Mother in prison! I dare say she is, and the child's likely enough to follow her there. Miss Josie, if you don't come on this moment—"

A strong hand on Josie's wrist spoke more forcibly than words could do. Sobbing and struggling, the little girl was drawn away, and Ailie saw her last hope disappear.

She gave up after that, and leant against the wall, watching the passers-by, as in a dream, no longer looking for help. And presently, as the dusk gathered round her, she turned homewards, staggering feebly in the gray shadows close to the walls, and thus escaping observation.

She had formed no plans where to go, and she was past all power of thought. Only in her suffering she shrank from the lonely misery of her retreat under the staircase, and when she entered the house, she went slowly upward, step by step, until she reached the landing where Esther Forsyth had discovered her three nights before. There again, in the same spot, she crouched down, sheltered as before from observation by the increasing darkness.

No one would be likely to remark her presence in passing. But, whether discovered or not, Ailie knew nothing of it, for she sank into insensibility, and lay there—a mere little heap of rags, covering a small bony form—in the corner of the landing.




NOT very far from the aged mansion in Ansty Court, where Ailie Carter's home had been so long, another old-fashioned house stood, in another old-fashioned street—narrow, but clean, fresh, and airy. This, too, was a large building, with numberless small windows, but each was furnished with white curtains or blinds, and on the lower window-ledges were long wooden boxes, filled with summer flowers.

All up the wide stairs lay Brussels carpeting, and the oil-cloth in the hall, of alternate dark-brown and red diamonds, had a pleasant effect. At about six o'clock Josie stood there, waiting for the sound of the tea-bell, which was usually rung to summon her from the play-room. She whiled away the time by stepping slowly from one diamond-shape to another, with all possible care to avoid treading on the light brown ground intervening. With a grave face, and hands folded loosely together, she went through her self-appointed exercise, pacing cautiously across the hall and back again, while her tiny terrier pattered daintily in her rear. Evidently Snap thought his mistress must be about some very important occupation, by the exceeding pains he took not to hinder her.

Then a side-door opened, and a gentleman, coming out, remarked in a pleasant voice—well matched by the pleasant face to which it belonged—"Josie, I did not know you were here."

"I'm waiting for the tea-bell."

"Five minutes since it rang, and mother and I have been looking out for you ever since."

"Why, Leveson, I never heard it."

"Absent state of mind, I am afraid! Come along, dear."

Josie went in with a rush, and seated herself at the oval table, upon which was a bunch of flowers in a tall white vase, a blue glass snake being twisted round it. At the head of the table sat a lady in a widow's cap, with a very sweet sad face. She had not passed middle life, but trouble had drawn lines upon her brow, and set a stamp of mournful resignation upon the lips.

"Mother, only think, I never heard the bell," said Josie.

"What were you thinking about, I wonder?"

"Ever so many things. Oh, what beauties of flowers. Did Leveson get them for you? Ah, I thought so. Oh, what beauties!"

Josie buried nose and eyes in the bunch, and then sat up to feast the latter on white moss rose-buds, pink tea-roses, fragrant heliotropes, variegated geraniums, and drooping fuchsias, while busied with a slice of bread and butter.

"Are they not lovely, mother? If only we had a garden, and I could have some flowers like those growing."

Mrs. Therlock sighed, but merely said: "Did you have a nice walk to-day?"

"I suppose it was," said Josie. "I'm tired of the streets. I do wish we could be in the country. Oh, I saw such a poor ragged little girl to-day."

"Where was she?" asked Leveson, thinking what numbers of such little ones were to be seen in all directions.

"Among the shops," said Josie vaguely. "And she was starving."

"How do you know, dear?" asked Mrs. Therlock.

"Why, she told me! I had run on from nurse, and she told me."

"But, my dear Josie, I cannot have you leave nurse when you are out walking in the streets," said Mrs. Therlock, with a nervous flush. "You don't know what might happen to you. I must speak to nurse. What could she have been thinking of?"

"She was quite near," said Josie. "But I saw the little girl crying, and I asked her what was the matter, and she said she was starving, and I'm sure she looked, oh, so hungry! Her frock was all rags, and not at all clean, and her arms were as thin—as thin as sticks."

"What was she like?" asked Mrs. Therlock, seeming anxious still.

"Why, she was like that, mamma—as thin as thin could be, and not a bit of colour in her face, and such great black eyes, they almost frightened me. She told me her father was dead, and her mother was in prison—jail, I mean, but that's the same thing, isn't it?—was in jail for stealing a loaf. She had stolen it because she was hungry, but I told the little girl how wicked it was to steal, and she did look so ashamed, you can't think. I am sure she wouldn't steal, though nurse was so unkind, and said right before her that she would follow her mother to jail. I'm sure the little girl won't, for she looked as honest as honest could be; and I hadn't a penny in my pocket, and I wanted her to come here for my other penny, but nurse said she wasn't to come. Should you have minded, mother?"

"I like you to help those in trouble, dear, but of course you must do as nurse tells you. Only I will say to her, that if you see the little girl again, you may give her something, or send her here for some bread."

"Where does she live, Josie?" asked Leveson.

"Somewhere about, I suppose," said Josie. "I wish I had asked her. I never thought of that. You couldn't find her out, could you?"

"What is her name?"

"I didn't ask. She was just my size."

"I am afraid I might find hundreds of half-starved little girls about your size, without falling in with the right one."

"I wish I had remembered," said Josie. "If only I knew her name, or where she lives. I liked the poor little girl's face so much. I am sure it would be quite pretty if it were clean,—but she did look so very very miserable. Oh, now I remember, she said she had no home, and she had slept under the stairs last night, but she didn't say what stairs. Leveson, wasn't it very wicked of her mother to steal? Are people always put in prison when they steal?"

"When they are found out, and it can be proved against them."

"And isn't it very wicked?"

"Yes. Very wrong," said Leveson, resting his arm on the back of Josie's chair. "It is wrong to steal, and wrong to tell lies, and wrong to covet, and wrong to give way to temper. None of us are perfect."

"But it isn't so bad to get into a passion, as it would be to steal," said Josie, with a guilty look up from under her eyelashes.

"How do you feel when you are in a passion?"

"What do you mean?"

"Do you feel loving and affectionate to all the world—especially the person who has offended you?"

"I know what you want me to say, and what you will tell me after, so I won't say it," responded Josie.

"What do I want you to say?" asked Leveson.

"Why, that I hate everybody at those times," said Josie unguardedly.

"And is it true?"

"Of course. Now, Leveson, you've made me say it after all."

"And what was I going to say in answer?"

"You may say it if you like."

"I would rather you should."

"'He that hateth his brother is a murderer,'" said Josie. "But nurse isn't my brother, so when I hated her this afternoon, because she wouldn't let me help the little girl, it wasn't like that."

"I fancy the term may be taken generally, and all mankind are brethren in a sense. But do you never hate any one except nurse?"

"N—o," said Josie.

"Not me, for instance?"

"Leveson, I wish you wouldn't ask. I did once last week for half an hour, when you shut me up in my room alone one day. It wasn't that, though," said Josie, bursting into tears. "I wasn't a murderer at all."

Leveson leant forward, and kissed away the tears affectionately. "You know what the Bible says, Josie, so I won't press that point. Of course it means in spirit, not in deed. I only wanted you to see that we may commit sins ourselves, quite as black in the sight of God, as those which may seem worst in the eyes of men. I'm not excusing the sin of stealing—don't think that. Sin is sin, in whatever shape it comes, only I sometimes think that our little failings, as we call them, and our careless yielding to slight temptation, may wear as dark a dye in God's sight as the sudden desperate act of a poor half-famished creature, who is driven to it by utter want and misery."

"And wasn't it right to put her in prison?" asked Josie.

"Perfectly right. Crime must be punished; but we must not be like the Pharisee, Josie—'I thank Thee that I am not as other men are.' Better one and all of us to say humbly before God—'Be merciful to me a sinner.'"

Josie sat thoughtfully for a minute, and then finished her bread and preserve without a word.

"I know what," she said, getting up after tea. "I'll get nurse to take me that very same walk every day for a week, and look out for the little girl."

"A good plan," said Leveson, and he heard no more till Mrs. Therlock had left the room, when Josie came to his side.

"I wish—I do wish we could go to the sea or to the country."

"I wish you could, dear."

"It would be good for mother too. Why don't you persuade her?"

"I have tried in vain. You know as well as I do why she cannot bear to be away from London."

"And I suppose she means to stay here all her life, and I'll never see anything but dirty London streets," said Josie pettishly. "I didn't mean to be cross, Leveson, so don't look grave, but I do so want a change, and I'm tired of always going the old old round, and never having anything fresh."

"It is hard for you, Josie, but you must try to bear it patiently, for mother's sake."

"It doesn't do her any good. I wouldn't mind if it did. She only keeps just as melancholy. It isn't as if we could do any good—to Vi, I mean—by staying."

"Mother lives upon hope, Josie, and we must not try to destroy that hope, however small its foundation. Come, be a brave little woman, and make the best of things. I'll take you a run down the river to Margate one of these days."

"Oh, do. I shouldn't mind anything if you were always at home. If only you were curate here, or if we could go and live where you are, I wouldn't mind, then, being in London all the year round; or even if you weren't so busy, and could come and see me often."

"Or if you could have any single thing that you have not now," said Leveson, shaking his head. "No, no, Josie, that isn't being brave and contented. Your business is to be poor mother's little comforter, and it ought to be your happiness as well."

"And so it is," murmured Josie. "Only—only—if—"

"Only you want a little dash of river and sea-water to freshen you up. You shall manage it some day soon, or I will manage it for you. A sprinkling of spray is a capital remedy for discontent, and I'll take care that you try it before long. Will that do?"

"Oh, you are such a nice kind Leveson," said Josie.





THE floor on which the Forsyths lived was immediately below the garrets, and they too were inhabited. One sheltered a father, mother, and six children. In another a sickly shoemaker lived with his four little ones. The third was rented by old Job Kippis.

It was a small room, and it had not been his home long, for he had only moved into this locality a week or two earlier, so as to be near a fresh opening in the way of work. But already it had a home-like appearance. Not that Job Kippis was otherwise than poor—very poor. The room contained but a scanty supply of furniture. There was an old iron bedstead in one corner, with a patched coverlid laid over it; a square table, standing against the wall; a chair, supported rather insecurely upon three legs; and the board in the window, upon which Job Kippis did his tailoring work. But the floor had been well scrubbed, and the walls were clean, though bare; the small window-panes were free from cobwebs, and the table and chair showed signs of many a rubbing. A couple of common china ornaments stood upon the narrow mantel-shelf, and over it was pinned up a large "Illustrated News" likeness of the Duke of Wellington.

Seated in the window, close under the sloping roof, sat Job Kippis, striving to catch the last beams of departing daylight. Judging from his appearance, he must have been close upon seventy—a tall man in past years, though age and long stooping over his work had rounded his shoulders and diminished his height. His clothes, albeit old and threadbare, were clean and carefully mended. And the man himself, with his broad deeply-furrowed forehead, and thoughtful eyes, and thick silvery hair, had something about him of calm purpose and trust and peace combined, not often to be seen among the unhappy crowds of neglected beings who peopled this district.

Increasing darkness at length compelled him to cease his toil, and to lay aside the red cloth, the brilliant colouring of which formed such a contrast to his own faded clothing. He took a look across at the opposite garret-windows, where two or three consumptive-looking men, hitherto engaged in the same occupation as himself, were likewise laying it aside, or resuming their stitching by the dim light of tallow candles.

Job Kippis folded up his work carefully, then went to a square closet, almost as large as a tiny room, whence he brought some bread and cheese. These occupied him for some time. After that he went opposite the fireplace, and took a good look at the likeness.

"He was a man, was the Duke," muttered Job. "I'll never see his like again, nor England won't neither, I fancy. I'd give a deal to see him once more—just to look on his face. Well, there's many a thing I'd like, maybe, but I've got no reason to complain. Good eyesight, and steady hands, free from rheumatiz, is a thing to be thankful for at my age. I'm getting old now, and I can't expect not to be a-breaking down some day. Well, if that day comes, I've my savings, and when they're gone—"

Job paused, looked towards the strip of blue sky visible through a mist of smoke, and a smile broke over his face.

"Why, then I've a Father as 'll take care o' me, to be sure. Maybe He'll let me go to workhouse. I hopes not, sure enough. But maybe it'll be good for old Job's pride. Then I'll have to go cheerful, an' bear it without grumblin', if so be 'tis His will. Sure the Lord's as present in the workhouse as He is up here this minute. Isn't He just everywhere?"

Smiling still, and rubbing his brown firm hands together, Job gazed up for a moment, then moved towards the door.

"Think I'll get a taste o' fresh air this evening. I must begin to save my old eyes now, and let 'em rest at times. Why, just to look at those poor fellows over the way, and this side too—four children, five children, six children, all a-growing, and needing clothes and food. However they keep soul and body together, I don't know. But there's One as sees the sparrows fall. He knows it all—don't He, now?"

Down the old creaking stairs passed Job, keeping close to the wall. And, as Esther Forsyth had done, he came upon a small bundle, in the corner of the landing. But no movement answered his exclamation—

"Hallo, who is it? A child, I do believe. Poor little 'un! Asleep!"

Job gave her a slight push, and she fell helplessly upon the ground, the thin arms trailing by her side. Job bent down and felt her.

"Why, she be cold as ice—poor little 'un,—nothing left of her but skin and bone. Who'll she belong to, I wonder?" Job raised a shout—"Ho! Hallo! Here's a child ill, or somethin' wrong with her."

Several faces appeared through several opening doors at this appeal, and two or three women came forward—Esther Forsyth among them, having been in the act of coming up-stairs at that moment. The little figure was lifted from the dark corner where it lay, and the moment it was possible to obtain a view of the face, Esther exclaimed—

"'Tis little Ailie herself."

"Sure, so it be," echoed one or two others. "Wherever can she ha' been all this while?"

"What, poor Carter's little girl, as I was asked about yesterday, and nobody knowed where she was gone?" inquired old Job, with interest.

"Yes, 'tis Ailie Carter," repeated Esther. "An' I'm glad enough the little thing is found, too. She's half-starved, by the look of her."

"Poor little 'un!" said Job compassionately, and lifting the light weight in his arms—strong arms still, despite his seventy years—he bore her upward towards his own room, followed by Esther. But as they passed the door of her room, Job's burden attracted attention, and Hor and Lettie ran out.

"Mother, it's Ailie! It's Ailie! I'm so glad!" cried Lettie.

"Where did you find her?" asked Hor, much interested.

"Down on the stairs, lyin' curled up in a corner," said Job.

"Oh, is she dead?" asked Lettie fearfully, as she looked at the sunken face, lying across Job Kippis's arm.

But Ailie opened her eyes.

"Not she,—and ain't going to die, please God," said Job reverently. "It's something to eat she wants, an' I've plenty up in my house. Come along, and see her feed, if ye like."

Not Esther alone, but Hor and Lettie too accepted this invitation. Job went up, taking the lead, till he reached his room, when he sat down on the three-legged chair, the place of the absent leg being supplied by the corner of the bedstead.

"Now we'll give her some bread, to rouse her up," said Job, glancing at the loaf on the table. "That's it—a mouthful at a time. Why I thought she'd eat it, so I did," went on the old man encouragingly, as the black eyes brightened and begged for more. "Not too fast, deary—it's bad, after fastin', to eat too much an' too quick. Poor little 'un! No one to look after her, was there?"

"I wonder where she's been?" said Hor, and his mother took up the inquiry, while putting another piece of bread between the parched lips—

"Where did ye make away wi' yourself, Ailie?"

"I was down under the stairs for ever so long," said Ailie feebly, letting her head drop on Job Kippis's arm. "An' I was so hungry—and I went out in the streets—"

"And nobody gave you nothin'?" asked Lettie, pityingly.

"Nobody—nothin'," echoed Ailie.

"What made ye hide?" asked Hor.

Ailie looked confused, then suddenly sat up, tears filling her eyes.

"It was the work'us. Oh, don't take me to the work'us! Oh, please don't let them!" And, turning towards Job, as if for protection, she clung to him with all her strength, catching her breath in helpless sobs. "Oh, don't, please. I don't want to go to the work'us."

"Nobody 'll take ye nowhere to-night, deary," said Job, delighted at the confidence she showed in him.

"And not to-morrow neither!" entreated Ailie, squeezing his hand with both hers in terror. "Oh, don't! Mother 'll come back, an' I don't want to go away! Oh, please!"

"Well, well, we'll do all we can," said Job, completely melted; "poor little starved morsel as ye are. Maybe I can make up a bed for you to-night in my closet yonder, and ye'll sleep there as snug as a bird in a nest—eh? Will that do?"

Ailie's head went back on his arm, and Job would not put her down.

"Poor little deary! Little wanderin' lamb!" he muttered once or twice, as he looked about the room, and then with his disengaged hand pulled the coverlid from his own bed.

Esther, following his directions, opened the cupboard door, cleared a vacant space on the floor, and, with the slight materials at her disposal, made as good a bed as was possible under the circumstances. Job watched the operation gravely.

"Maybe it's hard," he said. "I'd give her a better place if I could, but I hasn't a better. Why, if she ain't asleep already! Well, 'twill be better for her there than down on the stairs landin'. Will ye take off the bit of a ragged frock from the poor lamb, Mrs. Forsyth?"

Esther willingly lifted the child from his arms, and carried her to the tiny closet, where there was just room for the small improvised bed, and one person to stand beside it. In a minute or two she opened the door again, and beckoned Job.

"There! She'll sleep as peaceful as peaceful can be," said Esther. "It's a kind man ye are to help the poor little thing, Mr. Kippis. We haven't a corner ourselves to offer her, or we'd do it."

"Sure enough you would, but you've all them children, and I not a chick o' my own," Job said. "Aye, she'll sleep sound enough. Don't she look happy?"

"I'm so glad it was you as found her," murmured Lettie. "Ain't you, Hor?"

"Ain't I just?" responded Hor. "To think of her starvin' under the stairs all that while. What 'll ye do with her to-morrow, Mr. Kippis?"

"Come 'n ask me that question on the morrow, boy," responded Job. "I'll be glad to see any of ye. I'm sleepy now myself. Thank ye for your help, Mrs. Forsyth."

They took the hint and withdrew.

Job had one more look at the placid face of the sleeper, and then prepared to go to bed himself; but he lay awake a good while, thinking over the question proposed by Hor.





AILIE woke up slowly, wondering at first where she could be. Under the stairs was her first impression, but then she felt the quilt wrapped round her, and the little bundle under her head, and she saw the light coming through the half-open door. She jumped up in a great hurry, pulled on her ragged frock, and peeped out.

There sat old Job Kippis near the window, with a worn volume upon his knee, from which he was slowly reading aloud. Ailie hesitated until he looked up; then, as a smile broke over his face, she came towards him.

"Had a good night, little deary?" asked Job.

"I've slept ever so sound," said Ailie.

"And ever so hungry this mornin', eh?" inquired Job.

Ailie nodded.

"Have some breakfast d'rectly, won't ye? I've a little cleanin' up to do first, but 'twon't take long. And—well, I'd like to see you doin' the same thing, Ailie," added Job, with a glance at Ailie's dusky face and fingers. "I'll give you some water, an' a piece of soap."

"Mother liked me to wash," said Ailie, and Job carried the old tin basin to her closet, well pleased at her answer. There he left her, and thence she emerged in a few minutes, a very different-looking child, with fresh skin, and hair smoothed back as neatly as was possible without the aid of a brush. Ailie had tried the effect of water instead, which gave it a plastered appearance, but added to its smoothness.

"That's a deal better," said Job. "And now we'll come to breakfast."

He propped up the broken chair with a piece of wood kept on purpose, and balanced himself upon it, while Ailie took her seat on the foot of the bedstead, and the table stood between them. There was a stale half-loaf upon it, and a tiny piece of butter, and a small battered teapot containing some weak tea. Ailie was sure she had never tasted so delicious a meal in all her life, and Job would not stint her, though he took less than usual himself, to make up for her ravenous appetite. She asked for nothing, and would have left off uncomplainingly, but the hungry eyes were too much for his fortitude, and he gave her as much as he thought good for her.

"Mayn't I wash up?" asked Ailie, seeing him begin to do so. "Mother used to let me help her, ever so long ago—afore we had to pawn everything."

"Why, ye don't know how," said Job, looking down at the child.

"I'd soon learn," responded Ailie, and Job Kippis nodded his head.

"So ye shall, deary, sure enough. Never does nobody no harm to learn. I'm all for learnin', ain't I, when we've means to do it? So there now, I'll get to my work, an' you'll tidy up the room for me, like as useful a maid as ever I see."

Ailie smiled acquiescence, and Job Kippis settled himself to his tailoring, casting an occasional side-glance at the little maid's movements. She did not seem at a loss. First the chair was pulled back against the wall, and the table was with some difficulty restored to its usual place. Then Ailie set to work to re-make the bed. Job had made it already that morning, but he said nothing to disturb Ailie's pleasure in being useful; he only gave one or two furtive looks, a smile twitching his lips.

The bed-making—such as it was—being accomplished, Ailie brought out the tin basin, and filled it with fresh water from the old tin can, which had been wont to stand in the closet till displaced by her presence. With careful fingers she washed the two little blue plates, and the two little white mugs, in imitation of her mother's custom in earlier days, before misery and want had broken in upon such habits. Then arranging them and the teapot upon the mantel-shelf—not their usual place, but Ailie asked no questions, and Job would not interfere—she finally hid away the tin basin in a corner, rubbed her fingers clean, pushed back her hair, and went to Job.

Job gave her a little nod, with the words—"Thank'ee, deary," and continued his work. Ailie watched intently, feasting her eyes on the bright red cloth, and once in a way looking out of the window at the roofs opposite, and the blue sky over them.

"It's ever so much better up here than down below," she said at length.

"Down whereabouts?" asked Job.

"Down in the cellar," said Ailie.

"Ah, 'twas there ye lived, wasn't it?"

Ailie nodded.

"And you likes this best?"

Another nod, and after it came the abrupt question, "What be you goin' to do with me?"

Job looked up at the eager face, then worked on steadily. "Why, that's the very question I was askin' myself last night. What's to be done with ye, poor little 'un, till your mother's back? Two months, ain't it?"

"Oh, not the work'us, please, please!" entreated Ailie, with passionate earnestness.

"Why, ye wouldn't be so badly off there," said Job, soothingly. "Maybe I'll come to it myself some day, I was a-thinkin' only yesterday."

"Oh, not the work'us, please!" was all Ailie could reiterate.

"What's to be done with ye, then?" asked Job, putting the puzzling question in his turn.

A pause followed, during which Ailie looked round the room, towards the closet, and back again into the kind hearty face, with its silver locks drooping over the forehead.

"I wish ever so much I was your little girl," sighed Ailie.

"Why, do ye like the old man?" asked Job, thinking how her arms had clung to him the night before.

"Lots!" said Ailie emphatically. "I'd like to be mother's still, 'cause I love her, you see, but I wish you was my—my—gran'father," concluded Ailie, with a great stretch of imagination, "so's I could get up on your knee, like as I did on father's, afore he was ill."

"Father was good to ye, wasn't he, eh?" asked Job.

Ailie nodded in her quick way.

"An' ye like a-sittin' on somebody's knee, like as you did on mine yesterday; but you was half asleep, and maybe you don't remember."

"Oh, but I do, too, an' it was as nice as nice!" repeated Ailie, with shining eyes. "And I did feel so certain sure you was a-takin' care o' me, I didn't feel afraid—not o' the work'us, even."

"Pretty, ain't it?" muttered old Job softly. "Maybe I'll learn a lesson from that, couldn't I, now? Lyin' in my arms, and never seen me before, and not feelin' a bit o' fear, 'cause she knowed I'd take care o' her! Why, how did she know it, 'cept that I picked her up, when she was a-lyin' all helpless, an' gave her food, an' cuddled her in my arms? Sure that's what the Good Shepherd does—not as I'm likenin' myself, a poor sinful old man—but, sure enough, He does pick up the poor stray lambs, and feeds 'em, an' they feels His arms round 'em, and sees His face, and trusts Him, and has no fear. Ain't that a beautiful thought now?" added Job, looking up brightly, in his usual fashion of putting questions to himself.

Ailie had listened to the indistinct soliloquy, but understood little of it. "What's a shepherd?" she asked.

"A man as takes care of the sheep," said Job. "And there's One—the Good Shepherd, Ailie, and maybe ye know who He is."

Ailie shook her head. "I've seen a shepherd," she said. "There was a lot o' sheep goin' through a street one day, and a man a-drivin' of them with a stick, an' a dog barkin' at them. Was he a good shepherd, 'cause he wouldn't let the carts run over 'em?"

"Ah, deary, the Good Shepherd ain't like that nohow. He don't drive His sheep, but He walks along in front, an' they loves Him so much they walks after Him. And don't He lead 'em to nice cool waters and green grass?" added Job, smiling.

"'Tain't in London, then," said Ailie shrewdly. "We've got no green grass here, 'cept it's away in them park places, as mother said she'd been to once."

"I'd like to tell ye a deal about it," said Job. "I'd like to see ye one o' His lambs, Ailie."

"I ain't a lamb—I'm a girl," said Ailie.

"I'd like to see ye one o' his lambs," repeated Job. "I'm one of the old sheep o' the flock, Ailie."

"You ain't a sheep neither," said Ailie.

And Job shook his head rather despondingly, wondering how he was to make her understand.

But at this moment there was a tap at the door, and John Forsyth came in.





AILIE gave a sharp cry, and slipped down on the ground close to Job Kippis, clinging to his coat, as if for protection.

"Good mornin'," said Job, nodding. "Got the little gal here, you see, all right."

"What are ye thinkin' of doin' with her?" asked John, putting the oft asked and, as yet, unanswered question.

A twitch of Job's coat spoke plainly enough as to Ailie's state of mind, even without the imploring:

"Oh, please—"

"What d'ye advise?" asked Job.

"Work'us," said John.

"Please," sobbed Ailie, with another stronger twitch.

"There, there, wait a bit, deary," said Job soothingly; and, returning to his stitching, he remarked, "She don't seem over-willin' to go."

"A scrap of a child like that! Don't know nothin' about it," said John tersely. "Send her off, and she'll do, never fear."

"Poor little deary!" murmured Job. "It's hard, ain't it, for her?"

"Look ye here," said Forsyth. "I've a wife an' five children o' my own, an' one not my own, as I took up an' 'dopted five years since, when I wasn't in my present circumstances. So long as I've a crumb to spare, I ain't a-going to cast her off. But I ain't a-going to 'dopt a second, I can tell ye. Six is enough for a man, who's been nigh upon three months out o' work."

"Out o' work still?" asked Job.

"I've found a job as 'll last a week; just serve to keep us on where we be. It'll pay up some o' the back rent, an' do little enough beside."

"'Tis hard lines for ye," said Job compassionately. "Don't ye think I was a-wishin' you to do anythin'. No, no I you've enough, as you say, wi' your own."

John Forsyth nodded, and said, "She can't look to live on the neighbours, neither. There's nothin' left but the work'us."

Another sob from Ailie.

"Poor little un," said Job. "And it's two months to when her mother comes out?"

"Two months nigh. And she with nothin' to live on then, neither, comin' out a widow, an' the little she had left gone to pay her rent."

"Poor thing—yes," said Job.

"So you'd best let me take the child off to the work'us this mornin'," pursued John. "I'll go to work this afternoon, an' 'twill be some days, likely, afore I'll be free again to walk so far."

"Don't think I'll be in such a hurry," said Job.

"You're not thinkin' o' keepin' the child yourself!"

"Maybe, for two or three days," said Job cautiously, adjusting his work. "There's a many things I'd like to say to her."

"Ye'll be drawn into doin' more. Tell ye, it won't answer. She'll mind goin' then more than now."

"Maybe I'll mind partin' with her too!"

"And you'll let me take her off!"

"Thank'ee—not such a hurry."

"'Tain't as if you was a young man," expostulated Forsyth. "It's only fair you should think o' yourself afore others."

But this remark worked differently from the way in which John intended that it should.

"It wasn't the Master's way, somehow, to think o' Himself afore others," said Job.

"Eh?" said John.

"'Twasn't the Master's way," repeated Job, laying two folds of scarlet cloth together. "I think He'd maybe have me help the poor stray lamb, as nobody else can help—maybe He'd wish I should do it for His sake."

"Don't know nothin' about that," said John. "A man must act with common prudence, I says."

"So says I," responded Job. "There ain't a more prudent transaction, I can tell ye, than that o' lendin' to the Master. It's hundred per cent interest that He gives back."

"You're gettin' out o' my depth," said John, with some impatience. "Poor folks like us, livin' from hand to mouth, haven't no time for religion—and livin' in dirty holes, with a crowd o' yelling children round, ain't the way to practise it, neither."

"Ain't a man in the world that needs religion more than such a one," said Job quietly. "Don't ye want help in gettin' your daily bread, and in takin' care o' your children?"

"I wants a deal o' things I'll never get," said John curtly. "What'll ye do about the child?"

"Keep her a bit. She'll sleep in my closet—an' maybe—"

"Hope you won't have cause to repent it," said John, getting up, with some annoyance at the rejection of his advice. "Good mornin' t' ye."

Ailie never moved till he was gone, and then, standing up, she asked, with dilated eyes—

"Ain't I going, really?"

"No, deary, not to-day."

"Nor to-morrow?" asked Ailie.

"Nor to-morrow, deary."

"Nor next day?"

"Maybe not next day, neither."

"Nor till mother comes?"

"We'll see," said Job soothingly. "I'll keep ye on a while, if I can."

"I won't be hungry," said Ailie. "I'll eat ever so little—an' I'll be so useful—and—and—I do like you ever so much."

"I'd like you to love me," said Job. "Maybe ye'll call me gran'father—eh?"

Ailie's face brightened yet more at this suggestion, and she gave vent to her feelings in a wild gambol round the room, which rather startled Job at the moment, though he took it placidly.

"She's so happy she don't know what to do," he murmured. "It'll be cheery for me, too, won't it? So long since I've had a little 'un about me."

"I'd like to go an' tell Lettie, gran'father," said Ailie, luxuriating in the new title, but before she had time to decide on going down, the door opened slightly, and Lettie's small voice said—

"Please may I come in?"

"Come in, deary," said Job. "Why it's quite lively, it is, to hear the little voices," muttered the old man, as he stitched away. "I've been lonesome at times, an' it's mighty pleasant."

"Lettie, ain't it beautiful?" cried Ailie. "I've been a-sleepin' in the cupboard, under the beautifullest thick coverin', an' had a breakfast o' real tea an' bread an' butter. And he says I'm to call him gran'father, and I means to do it always, 'cause he's as good as a real gran'father; an' I'm not going to the work'us to-morrow, nor next day, nor p'raps not at all."

This was jumping at conclusions more readily than Job Kippis had calculated upon; but he could not resolve to check her happy words, and he quieted himself with the remembrance that he had made no promises.

Lettie's pleasure almost equalled Ailie's own. And in a few minutes, the latter's excitement cooled down so far as to allow her to climb up into the window-seat with Lettie, where they sat watching Job, and wondering much at the steady progress of his work.

"Ain't it a bright red?" said Lettie.

"I'd sooner it wasn't so bright, for the sake o' my old eyes," said Job. "But I loves the old colour too."

"What old colour, gran'father?" asked Ailie.

"Why the old scarlet, deary—same as I once wore when I was a soldier, d'ye see?"

"Was you a soldier?" asked Lettie. "I'll tell Hor that, 'cause he wants to be a sailor, an' that's sumthin' like, isn't it?"

"Sailors wears blue, and soldiers red," said Ailie, doubtful of her own information, though she spoke confidently.

"An' they both fights for the country," said Job. "One on land, and t'other on water. That's pretty nigh all the likeness betwixt 'em. Yes, I was a soldier once, but 'twas long ago. I was wounded in a battle, fought long afore you was born—battle of Waterloo," and Job looked round proudly at the picture over the mantel-shelf, with a movement of his hand to his head, a half-salute in memory of old days. "Fought it under him, ye know."

"Do 'ee make him tell Hor all about it," whispered Lettie to Ailie. "'Cause Hor's out after work now, and can't hear."

"So I will, too," said Job, overhearing her, and nodding his head. "And, maybe, I'll want ye all to be soldiers."

"Hor's goin' to be a sailor, he says, an' we can't be soldiers," said Ailie. "Can we, gran'father?"

"Not wearin' a red coat an' carrying a musket nor rifle," said Job Kippis. "Different sort o' soldiers, deary. There's a deal we all have to fight with; but I've got to make ye understand all that. Maybe that's why you was sent to me—because the Master wanted you to learn it," added Job, thoughtfully.

"I shouldn't wonder—I shouldn't."

"There's a deal o' fightin' down in the court," said Ailie.

"Ah! 'Tisn't that sort o' fightin', neither," said Job, with a half-sigh. "Fightin' for their own way—different sort o' thing that from fightin' in the Master's Service. But I'll tell ye all about it some time."




"SUNDAY mornin' to-day," said Job Kippis, as they sat down to breakfast, after Ailie's second night in her new home.

"Shops all shut, ain't they?" said Ailie, that being her chief association with the Day of Rest. "I don't like Sunday, gran'father."

"Don't ye, deary?"

"No, 'cause lots o' men don't go to work, an' fight an' frighten me."

"And ye've never been to Church, likely?"

Ailie made a gesture of dissent.

"Them big houses with steeples, ain't they?" she asked.

"Houses for to worship God in," said Job reverently.

"I don't know nothin' about it," said Ailie. "Nobody don't here."

"I've a deal to teach you, haven't I?" said Job. "Don't you know nothin' about God, Ailie?"

"Up in the sky, ain't He?" asked Ailie.

"Up in the sky, an' down upon earth too. He's just everywhere. There ain't a place nor a spot where God don't be."

"Down among the houses?" asked Ailie.

"Sure enough, down among 'em all."

"And where there's grass, an' trees, an' flowers?"

"Yes, among 'em all, and God made 'em too."

"He didn't make the houses," said Ailie. "Father was a mason, and he built some of 'em—leastways he helped."

"What was they built of, deary?"

"Stones an' bricks," said Ailie.

"And how did he get the bricks?"

"Why, they was all made, gran'father, 'cause once father took me ever so long a walk, and there was all the rows and piles o' bricks, an' men a-making of them as fast as they could."

"An' who made the stones, deary, an' who made the clay the bricks was made of?"

Ailie looked at him without speaking.

"Yes, 'twas God did all that," said Job. "He made the earth, an' the stars, and the sun, an' moon, and the trees, an' grass, and the birds, an' beasts, and men, an' women, an' children, an' old Job Kippis, an' little Ailie. He made everything, an' He's everywhere."

"How did He make 'em?" asked Ailie.

"Why He made them out o' nothing," said Job. "That's just what men can't do. Give me a bit of red cloth an' I'll make a coat; but tell me to make it out of nothing, and ye might as well tell me to fly like a bird. But God can, ye see, Ailie. He says, 'Let there be light,' an' light comes; an' He says, 'Let things be made,' an' they're made."

Ailie looked wonderingly at Job, and then recurred to his former remark—

"He ain't everywhere. He ain't here."

"He's in this room this very minute," said Job solemnly.

"He ain't though," said Ailie, half frightened.

"He's here all the time," repeated Job. "He's a-listenin' to every word we speak, an' more than that, He knows every bit of what old Job an' little Ailie are thinking."

"I wasn't thinkin' any harm," said Ailie. "Will He be angry?"

"Such a deal to tell her," murmured Job. "Dear, dear, how will I ever make her understand? Sure, deary, God is only angry with sin, and with nothing else at all."

"What's that?" inquired Ailie.

"Just whatever's wrong," said Job. "Tellin' lies, an' stealin', and quarrellin', and not lovin' Him, and all such things."

"I wasn't thinkin' any harm," repeated Ailie. "I only wanted to know what He was like. Will He be angry with that, gran'father?"

"Not a bit, deary. Sure He likes you to want to know about Him. I'll tell you one thing He's like—He's just a kind gentle Father, who loves little children, an' wants 'em all to be happy."

"But if we was to see Him," explained Ailie softly, "what'd He be like?"

"'No man hath seen Him at any time,'" said Job, half unconsciously quoting from the Bible. "He's too glorious for that, Ailie. We'd have to lie down an' die that minute, if we could see God. We couldn't bear the sight."

"I don't know what 'glorious' means," said Ailie.

"Ain't the sun glorious when it shines so bright, an' dazzles your eyes if you try to look?"

Ailie's "yes" was emphatic.

"That's what it is; but the glory o' the sun is nothin' by His glory, deary—'twould look as dark as a piece o' black cloth in the sunlight."

"I'd like to see it," said Ailie.

"Nobody's seen Him—God, the Father, I mean," said Job reverently; "but He sent His Son into the world, and men saw Him, an' He was the Image of God."

Ailie did not understand—it was not likely she should.

Job thought he would stop there for a while, and let her think over what he had said, but all at once she asked:

"Gran'father, do you think father was remembered?"

"Don't ye remember him, eh, deary?"

"'Tain't that I mean. He wanted to be remembered."

"And sure you wouldn't go to forget him, Ailie?"

"'Tain't that," repeated Ailie. "'Twas a story Mrs. Forsyth told him, of a thief as wanted to be remembered; an' father, he wanted it too, an' he asked—"

"Asked who?" inquired Job, anxious to draw her out.

"And he made me ask too, he did."

"Ask who, deary?"

"Why,—I don't exactly know. Somebody as was nailed up, he said."

"And so He was," said Job. "Nailed up on a Cross, for you an' me, Ailie. Why, He's the very same Good Shepherd I was tellin' ye of yesterday."

"Is he?" said Ailie.

"An' the same I call the Master. That's one o' His Names. He's the Son of God, who came down from heaven to die for the world. Didn't your father know nought 'o that?"

"Maybe he knowed more than me," said Ailie. "What was it the thief said?"

"He said, 'Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.'"

"That's it," said Ailie. "Only Mrs. Forsyth had forgot the end. An' was he remembered?"

"The thief? Didn't the Lord say to him, 'To-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise'? That's heaven."

"No, but I means father," said Ailie. "Maybe he wasn't remembered?"

"Nobody knocks an' doesn't get a answer," said Job. "What was it he did, deary?"

"He wanted to be remembered," said Ailie. "An' we didn't know how to ask, an' there was no one to tell. But father told me, an' I said, 'Please remember father'; an' father, he asked too,—and we thought—maybe—"

"Sure the Lord heard him, Ailie. Ain't we told, 'Look unto Him and be ye saved?' and didn't He say, 'Come unto Me, and I will give you rest'? There's a many came to Him, and some didn't know much about Him, nor how to speak to Him, but I never heard as He turned one away. He always hears an' answers."

Job rose from the table as he spoke, but he took out no work that day. He let Ailie wash up, and then he called her to his side, and read aloud the story of the Crucifixion, adding brief explanations as he went along. Ailie listened for a while, and, when she grew restless, Job broke off.

"That'll do now, I reckon," he said. "Don't ye go an' forget, little un'. It's time to think o' Church."

"Church!" repeated Ailie, in astonishment.

"Sure enough, Church is for everybody to worship God in," said Job. "I'd be main sorry to stay away. Will ye come with me, Ailie?"

"I ain't fit," said Ailie, looking down at her soiled and ragged frock.

"To—be—sure," said Job slowly. "Why didn't I think o' that afore now, an' get ye all washed and patched? 'Tisn't as my own clothes is anythin' much, but they be well mended, an' as clean as clean! Good thing I'm a tailor, an' independent o' the woman-kind, havin' none belongin' to me."

"I ain't clean," said Ailie.

"Seems I had best leave ye at home to-day, an get ye all in shape afore next Sunday," said Job. "Eh, deary?"

Ailie had no objection. She rather wanted to stretch her limbs after sitting so long. So she sought out Lettie, and indulged herself in a wild scamper through the back-yard, while Job Kippis made his way to the nearest City Church, with its scanty congregation and quiet Service.





"LEVESON, it's such a time since you came home last," said Josie, one bright October day.

"A whole fortnight," said Leveson Therlock, stooping to kiss his little sister. Though only her half-brother, he loved her as much as ever brother loved little sister of his own.

"A fortnight is a dreadfully long time," said Josie. "Mother has been wanting you nearly as much as I have—haven't you, mother?"

"If not more," said Mrs. Therlock.

"O no, it couldn't be more, because I have wanted Leveson as much as could be. Do you know I cried for you in bed one night, Leveson?"

"I heard of a little child once who cried for the moon," said Leveson.

"That was a stupid thing to do," said Josie, "because he couldn't have the moon, but I can have you."

"You mean he was stupid to cry, because crying wouldn't bring the moon to him."

"No, I don't mean that," said Josie, not choosing to be caught in a trap. "You want me to say that I was just as stupid to cry for you, because crying wouldn't bring you either. But if I cried so as to make myself ill—wouldn't you come then?"

"I think I should send the doctor," said Leveson. He sat down and took Josie within his arm. "I have been very busy, Josie; still I have not forgotten my promise to my pet."

"You always are busy," said Josie. "I don't see why all the poor children in London are always to come before me."

"Which stands in the most need of help?"

"I think I do," said Josie decidedly, "because I haven't one single little girl to play games with me, and the poor children have hundreds."

"And not having a single little girl, you want a big brother instead."

"I'd rather have you than all the little girls in the world," said Josie. "But you see now, Leveson, I really do want you very much. It isn't only fancy."

"No, I see,—it is a question of health," said Leveson.

"Now, you needn't laugh at me."

"Was I laughing?"

"Yes, you know you were, down in your thoughts."

Leveson laughed now, at all events.

"But I don't know what promise you meant a minute ago," said Josie.

"Did I not once say I would take a certain little girl for a trip down the river?"

"Oh, you don't mean that!"

"You shall go to-day if you like. Perhaps it would be chilly on the water, but you shall take your choice. Down the river, or else over the Tower, or else off to Hampton Court."

Josie gave a little shriek at the third proposal, which showed what she thought of it.

"What, you would prefer the last?"

"Hampton Court! A real palace! I should think so!"

"Better than the river or the Tower?"

"I've been on the river before, and the Tower is in London. I want to get away. Does the Queen live at Hampton Court?"

"No, the last king that lived there was the Queen's great-great-grandfather, King George the Second."

"At all events, it's a real palace, because my history-book says so," observed Josie. "You don't really mean we are going?"


"You always are busy," said Josie.

"Directly. Run away and dress. If we don't start at once, we shall miss our train. It would not be worth while going later, for the place is closed to visitors at four."

"But, mother," said Josie, making a spring towards the door, "won't you come too?"

Mrs. Therlock shook her head.

"I cannot stand sight-seeing, darling," she said gently. "Go and enjoy yourself as much as possible. I shall love to think how happy you are."

"Only it seems too bad to take Leveson from you."

"Leveson will sleep here to-night, so I shall see him all the evening. Run and dress, Josie."

"Make haste, or we shall be too late," said Leveson; and Josie flew off in overpowering excitement.

She would have flung on anything that came to hand, in her dread of being too late; but nurse had her own ideas as to propriety, and undertook the task of dressing her eager little charge. It was of no use for Josie to fume and struggle. She had to submit to being brushed and smoothed, arranged and patted, till frock, ribbons, hair, and feathers were all in proper order. Then, and not till then, Josie was released, almost in tears with repressed impatience. However, the final rush down-stairs dissipated all annoyance, and Leveson, who was engaged in a conversation with Mrs. Therlock, apparently sorrowful in its nature, rose at once.

"Come, we have no time to lose."

A hansom cab was Josie's special delight, so one was procured near at hand, and off they went at full speed—Josie's brown hair tossing to and fro in the wind, and her hand clasping Leveson's in grateful ecstasy.

"Oh, it is so delicious—so very delicious!" she said. "How good you are to take me." Then, after a minute or two,—"Do you know, Leveson, it was just there I saw that poor little starving girl—the very day you promised to take me on the river."

"Poor little girl," said Leveson.

"I wonder if she did starve?" remarked Josie. "I made nurse bring me a great many times along here, until I was tired of the walk; but I never saw her again. I am so afraid she must have starved to death."

"I trust not. It would be a terrible thing."

"Yes, it must be very dreadful to be so hungry. How fast we are going!"

"You were rather long dressing, little woman, so we have barely time to catch our train."

"Oh!—Oh, Leveson! There she is!" cried Josie. "The little girl that was starved—at least, starving. O dear!"

Leveson looked back, and caught a glimpse of a small figure on the pavement.

"We can stop, and ask her where she lives, if you like," he said. "Only I fear we shall lose our train."

"Oh, I don't want to miss the train," said Josie, and they went on. But she said uneasily the next moment—"Do you think we ought?"

"I cannot decide for you. I have been to Hampton Court before, so it would not be the same disappointment to me as to you to miss it. Do as you wish."

"You see she isn't starved," said Josie.

"No, so I perceive."

"Perhaps she was trying to take me in that day, after all," said Josie, anxious to feel herself in the right.

"You did not think so at the time."

"But she told me she was starving—and she's alive now," said Josie, inclined for an argument.

"No doubt some one gave her food."

"I dare say I shall see her again some day," said Josie. "I'll walk there every morning for some days, and then I'm pretty nearly sure to do it."

"Very well, dear."

"And it may not have been the same little girl, after all," said Josie. "Her frock looked cleaner."

"But how about her face?"

"That was cleaner too," said Josie.

"Yes, but was it the same face?"

"Why, I thought so; but then you know I only had the littlest bit of a glimpse, so how could I tell? And fancy if I had missed Hampton Court for nothing."

"So we will decide that it was not the little girl after all," said Leveson.

"I can't, because—I suppose it was," said Josie, with a cloudy look. "Leveson, I know you think I ought to have wanted to stop to speak to her. But it would be so very very hard to bear, if I couldn't go to Hampton Court. And I hardly ever get any pleasure. It is very unkind of you."

Leveson put a kind hand under her chin, and made her look up into his face.

"My dear little woman, that is all fancy. You have talked so much of the poor child, that I thought you had a very particular interest in her—"

"And so I have,—but she isn't Hampton Court," murmured Josie.

"So that was why I put the question about speaking to her. But I dare say you will meet her again some day, as she seems to frequent that road. No doubt her home is near."

"She hasn't any home," said Josie.

"She had not, perhaps; but probably she has found friends of some description—or her mother may be out of jail before now.

"Why, so she may," said Josie, brightening. "I didn't think of that. And you don't think I was very wrong to want to go on?"

Josie's tender conscience was not easily set at rest, but Leveson was anxious that her day should be one of thorough pleasure, and he exerted himself to draw her attention to other matters. They soon reached the station, and, by the time she was seated in the train, her spirits had arisen to their usual pitch.

It was a very happy time that Josie spent. She walked through the galleries of beautiful paintings, wondering much why Leveson admired so many which she thought ugly, and why he spoke so slightingly of those which she thought lovely.

"Wait till you are older," he said, smiling, when she asked an explanation. "Your taste in pictures has to be trained and taught, like every other part of your mind. It seldom comes naturally."

Josie had no objection to waiting, though secretly she felt sure that some of his favourites she should esteem frightful all her life long. After the pictures, they went into the garden, and Josie raced about the terraces, and lost herself in the maze so completely, that Leveson had to follow her in and lead her out. Then she admired the great vine, belonging to the Queen, and wondered at the thought of its two thousand bunches of grapes, borne every year.

After that, Leveson took her into a refreshment-house for some lunch, and a long ramble in Bushey Park followed. How Josie skipped, and danced, and rushed about under the fine chestnut and lime trees, wearing their autumn tints. And, finally, a military band gave them some lively tunes, in the garden.

Josie was tired by this time, and sat listening on a bench by her brother's side, with the country breeze playing round her, and the sunlight kissing her round cheeks, and catching a reflection in her happy eyes. It was delightful to sit there and listen to the band, her feet pattering softly on the greensward in time with the tunes, while merry groups of children played near, and the lofty walls of the fine old palace rose behind.

Only it was all over too soon; and sadly Josie said, when Leveson intimated that they must think of returning—

"So it's done now—and, oh! Dear, dear, I shall have to go on with the old round again, in those dismal old streets. And all the while we might be living in the dear beautiful country. I do think it is very hard."

"Do you think this discontent is right?" asked Leveson, as he rose to take her away.

"No," said Josie.

"I have done what I can to make a happy day for you. Cannot you let mother and me have a bright face in return?"

"I didn't mean to be nasty and ungrateful," whispered Josie.

"I am sure you did not, and you will not be."

"Only you don't know how tired I do get of London, and having nobody to play with," said Josie.

"You have had no one to play with to-day."

"I've had you."

Leveson was silent a moment.

"Josie," he said at length, "many a poor little child in the streets of London cannot obtain such a sweet glimpse of beauty and freshness as you have had now to carry away with you."

"They don't know what country is, so they don't miss it," said Josie.

"I think that makes the matter only more grievous."

"But I have lived in the country, and I don't forget, though it was so long ago," said Josie.

"Many a poor little one may remember it too, without a hope of even a glimpse of it again," said Leveson.

And Josie knew from the sound of his saddened voice what was the subject of his thoughts just then.





THAT same afternoon, the last ray of the setting sun, which shone brightly on Josie Therlock during her happy homeward journey, crept lazily, half-veiled by smoke, through the window of Job Kippis' garret.

It fell upon Job himself first, lending a sparkle to his silver hair, and a light to his steady eyes. It cast his shadow behind on the bare wall, and crept over the aquiline face of the Duke's portrait over the fireplace. And just as it was taking itself away from Job Kippis' hands, busied with some tough army-cloth, the door opened, and Ailie bounded in.

"Gran'father, I've brought Hor an' Lettie to see you," she cried.

For though the middle of October had come, there was no more talk of the workhouse for Ailie. She was domesticated in Job's garret.

"Welcome, both o' them," responded Job. "How're ye gettin' on, lad?"

Hor sat down on the foot of the bed, and leant his chin on his hand, without replying, while Lettie crept to the window, settling herself there in her quiet precise fashion, while her little fair head caught the last gleam of sunlight.

"Eh?" repeated Job.

"I'm not gettin' on at all," said Hor. "Ain't like to, neither."

"Why not?" demanded Job.

"Two places lost lately, as I might ha' had with a decent jacket to my back," said Hor gloomily. "They'd have took me for errand-boy at a shop this mornin' if I could have dressed up respectable. It ain't no use. I've tried an' tried, an' now I'll give up."

"Give up what?"

"Give up tryin'."

"Tryin' what?"

"To work, an' be respectable. 'Tain't no use. I'll give up, an' go along with the rest o' the boys. Mother's made a deal o' fuss about keepin' me honest, an' where's the good? I'll give up."

"An' begin to drink, an' steal, an' swear?" asked Job.

"Not steal," said Hor.

"T'other two, then?"

Hor's answer was a gruff: "Dunno."

"Just as well steal as swear, when you're about it," said Job. "One's breakin' of the fourth commandment, an' one's breakin' of the eighth."

"I tell ye I mean to give up tryin' to keep steady, an' to be respectable."

"Supposin' ye do," said Job, "what'll ye gain by it?"

Hor did not know what to answer.

"Think it'll make ye happier?"

Hor could not answer in the affirmative.

"Think it'll make ye more respectable?"

Hor shook his head.

"Think it'll bring money into your pocket—leastways without you takes to stealin' too?"

"I don't think nothin' about it, save that I'm tired o' tryin' to no purpose," said Hor listlessly.

Job paused a moment in his work, to glance at the boy's thin face and hollow eyes.

"Poor lad!" he muttered. "I'd like to be able to help ye."

"Nobody can't—save them as won't," said Hon

"How old are ye, boy?"

"Thirteen—nigh upon fourteen."

"An' your name? Horatio Nelson, ain't it? Lived same time as the Duke himself, didn't he? An' a brave sailor he was too. Never turned his back on an enemy! If I was you, lad, I wouldn't go for to disgrace a name like that!"

"If I'd a chance to go to sea, I wouldn't mind nought else," said Hor.

"Seems to me ye want a many things," said Job Kippis.

"Just think I do," said Hor.

"Gran'father," remarked Ailie in the pause following, "d'ye know I saw that little lady as wanted to give me a penny—an' she was drivin' past with a gentleman, an' laughin' an' talkin' as happy as happy, an' she looked at me too."

"Maybe she knowed you again," said little Lettie.

"Maybe she didn't," said Hor. "Catch a fine young lady a-knowin' a little ragged girl like you agin. Likely that."

"Why wouldn't she then?" asked Job.

"Rich folks don't care for poor uns," said Hor.

"You're out there, boy. There's many do."

"I ain't seen 'em then."

"Maybe not. There's many things you haven't seen. I've one rich Friend."

"He don't do much for ye then," said Hor, glancing round the bare apartment.

"Don't He? That's all you knows about the matter. Just all my joy an' happiness in life comes from Him."

Hor made no answer.

Job went on after a minute—

"There's many things ye wants, lad. Ye say ye've worked an' tried in vain, an' you're like to give up tryin'. I'll put one question to ye. Have ye ever asked for 'em?"

"Asked over an' over again," said Hor. "There ain't a man as 'll employ me."

"Then I'd stop askin' men, an' go higher."

"Go where, gran'father?" asked Ailie.

Job lifted one hand.

"Up there, deary."

"Like as father asked to be remembered?" asked Ailie.

"Aye, an' like as I make ye kneel down night an' morning, an' pray to 'Our Father, which art in Heaven.'"

"D'ye mean to say, if I went an' prayed for work, it'd come?" inquired Hor, with a low incredulous laugh. For thanks to old Job, the name and meaning of prayer was not unknown among those three children, as it had been but a short time back.

Job thought seriously, then said—

"No, I don't, lad."

"Then where's the good o' prayin'?" asked Hor.

Job put down his work, and opened his Bible, bending over it in the twilight.

"Look here, lad—there's many an' many a promise of answers to prayers. Will ye hear one or two?

"'If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.' *

"See that, boy—'If ye abide in Me.' That's the Lord Himself. If ye abide in Him, trust Him, obey Him, love Him, He'll do what ye ask Him. 'Tisn't to them as don't love Him as He says that. An' here again—

"'And whatsoever we ask we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.' †

"D'you keep the commandments o' the holy Jesus, boy? D'you set yourself, heart an' soul, to do all ye can to please Him, eh? An' here again—

"'He will fulfil the desire of them that fear Him; He also will hear their cry and will save them.' ‡

"Are ye one o' them that fears Him? If ye are, He'll fulfil your desire, lad. Are ye, eh?"

"Don't see any good in prayin' at all, then," muttered Hor.

* John xv. 7.         † 1 John iii. 22.         ‡ Psalm cxlv. 19.

"No good! Why, if you're one that fears Him, ye may ask what ye will, an' if ye ain't making some foolish request, like to poison for your soul, He'll give it ye. Don't He love to make us happy? Don't it grieve Him at His heart when He sees one o' His poor sheep bleaten' an' sorrowful, and don't He love to smile an' comfort un? Eh, lad?"

"I don't know nothin' about that," said Hor. "I only knows He lets us live like pigs."

"Have ye ever asked Him to make it different?"

"What's the good? Don't ye say He won't answer?" demanded Hor.

"I don't say He won't, but only He's not promised He will. That's to say, lad, He's not promised to ye, 'whatsoever ye ask, ye shall receive.' He's promised to forgive your sins, an' to save ye, an' to make ye different, soon 's ever ye'll ask Him, but the 'whatsoever' promises don't belong to ye, till ye begins to serve Him. See my meanin', lad—eh?"

Hor did not answer, and Ailie said:

"He's the Shepherd, ain't He, gran'father?"

"Sure He is. The Shepherd, an' the Master, an' the Lord, an' the King, an' the Friend. Ever so many Names He's got,—picturs of Him like, so's we may understand Him better. There'll be a day, little deary—" and his firm brown hand stroked Lettie's head,—"there'll be a day when He'll have one Name, 'cause the Bible says so. 'There shall be one Lord, and His Name one.' He's one Lord now, but He's a many names. We won't need a Shepherd nor a Guide then, for we'll be at Home. Sometimes I wonders what Name He'll choose, among so many. One time I thinks it'll be Master, 'cause we'll all serve Him. Another time I thinks it'll be Father, 'cause we'll all be one family in Heaven, an' sure the Bible calls Him the Everlasting Father. Another time, I think maybe it'll be Love, 'cause the Lord is love, all love, nothin' but love. Any way it'll be beautiful—right beautiful," and the smile that shone on Job's face had a dim reflection of that far-off heavenly beauty.

"If He be all love, why don't He give us a nice place to live in?" asked Hor, though less doggedly than before.

"How many more times will I have to say it, lad—Have ye ever asked Him to make it different?"

"If I did, what then?" demanded Hor. "Don't ye be the same?"

"No," said Job decidedly. "You says ye lives like pigs, but 'tain't no pig-sty this home o' mine. It's where my Master has put me, an' I loves it for His sake. Why, lad, I tell ye, He'd put me in a palace straight,—not as I'd be happy there partic'larly,—but He'd put me there, if 'twas for my good. That's all as matters. I wouldn't ask Him to change. All I wants is,—

"'Guide me with Thy counsel, an' afterward receive me to glory.'

"Why, what matters a garret an' a scrap o' dry bread a little longer? There's Heaven waitin' for me, an' angels' food. Maybe if I'd more, I'd love this world too much. I don't love it now. It's Heaven I wants. Maybe then it'd be earth I'd want."

"It's some'at nice on earth I want," said Hor.

"An' ye might have it, if ye'd take it. Some'at nice! What's nicer than to have the Lord smilin' down on ye from heaven, an' helping you with His strong arm, an' givin' ye peace an' joy in your heart? How's it all to be got, Ailie?"

Ailie thought a moment, and said—"Ain't it by believin' Him, gran'father?"

"Sure enough, deary. Believin' and obeyin' the Lord who died for us on the Cross. He loved ye, lad—loved ye so as to die a bitter and painful death for your sake. An' He tells ye to seek Him, an' call to Him, an' do His commands, an' while ye won't do that, an' haven't a thought o' gratitude in your heart for all He's done for ye, ye'll sit there grumblin' because He don't give ye everything ye'd like. Do ye deserve to have it, boy?"

The solemn question met with no response from Hor. Little as he knew of himself, he at least knew so much that he could not answer in the affirmative.





THE two months' imprisonment was over at last, and Ailie knew that on the evening of this frosty November day, with its slippery pavements and misty air, she might expect to meet her mother once more.

She had divided feelings on the subject. She wanted to see her mother again, but she did not want to leave her adopted grandfather. The one would bring about the other, and whether to be most glad or most sorry was a puzzle to Ailie. She wavered to and fro between the two feelings, but as evening drew near the sorrow rather predominated. It was very cold, and Job Kippis had lighted a good fire. Little Lettie had crept up there for warmth, knowing herself to be welcome, for the Forsyths had almost no fire that day, and as Ailie crouched down by the small grate with her tiny companion, she wondered much, in the thoughtful fashion of a child who has seen little of careless childhood, where she would be at that time on the morrow, for "mother" would be penniless and friendless, without work and without a home. What was to become of them she did not know.

"'Tis a bitter night for her, ain't it?" said old Job presently, breaking a long silence. He was working hard by the waning light, and a candle stood beside him ready for use when necessary, for Ailie's presence had indented on his little savings, and made needful harder toil than usual on his part. "The frost in the streets is that bad, ye can't hardly get along. We'll give her supper, an' warm her up, Ailie?"

"Where'll she sleep, gran'father?" asked Ailie.

"Mother said somebody 'd lend her a bed for one night," said Lettie. "Don't you think she'll live here, Ailie?"

"I dunno one bit," said Ailie; "'cause mother hadn't no work for ever so long, an' she'd ha' moved, she said, if father hadn't been too ill. Dunno where she'll go, though."

"All big London afore her, an' ne'er a home for her, poor thing," sighed Job. "It's a great babel of a place, ain't it? To think o' thousands o' houses, an' not a spot as she can call her own. Ah me, if she had but a Home above, it'd matter little then."

"Gran'father, I'll tell to mother all you've teached me," said Ailie, looking up at him, "an' I'll say my texes every day, an' 'Our Father' too, an' 'Please wash away my sins for Jesus Christ's sake.' Will that do?"

"Sure, deary, if you says it from your heart," said Job, wiping his sleeve across his eyes. "It's sorely I'll miss ye; but sure I'm glad I didn't send ye off to the work'us."

"'Cause you wouldn't ha' been my gran'father then," said Ailie. "An' mother 'd ha' come, an' found nobody waitin' for her. Will she go to the old place first, gran'father, down in the cellar?"

"Maybe not. More like she'd know well enough ye couldn't have lived on alone, an' she'd ask what's become of ye, an' the neighbours 'd tell, 'Up with old Job Kippis,' an' she'd come an' tap an' walk in. Sure isn't that a noise outside now?"

Ailie sprang to open it, but a rush of cold air was all that entered, and she shut it again.

"'Tisn't nobody, gran'father. I wonders when she'll come."

"What'll I tell ye, to make the time go faster?" asked Job. "I'll have to stop work soon; my old eyes don't stand it by this light, as if they was young."

"Tell us about when you used to wear a coat all o' scarlet," said Ailie. "Was it ever so bright a red, gran'father?"

"That it was, deary, just this colour."

"An' did ye like wearing it?" asked Ailie.

"Just think I did!" said old Job emphatically. "Didn't I march along wi' my comrades, as proud as proud could be, an' the band a-playin' away in front."

"I'd like to hear it," said Ailie. "And how did ye get hurt, gran'father."

"'Twas a musket-ball wounded me, in the middle o' the battle. The French and English was fightin', deary, 'cause there was a man as we called Boney-party, who wanted for to rule all over Europe like, an' nobody wasn't to do nothin' without his leave. A reg'lar tyrant he was, an' the English couldn't let that be at all, so the Duke goes to meet him, an' 'twas a long battle. But we got the day, for sure the Duke never knowed what it was to turn his back, nor his men didn't neither. That's the sort o' soldier I'd have you be, Ailie, under the great Captain; never to know what 'tis to be beaten, nor runnin' away, but always a' lookin' at your Captain, an' obeyin' His orders."

"Did you used to be lookin' at the Duke, gran'father?" asked Ailie.

"Sure an' I did, deary, an' if anybody was a bit down, or afraid, only let the Duke come ridin' up, with his face as brave an' quiet as if he was sittin' in his chair in his home, an' we was all up in a moment, an' ready for anythin'. Afraid when the Duke was by! Never such a thing for a moment."

"An' when he wasn't by?" asked Ailie.

"Why, then we all knowed he wasn't far, an' we was obeyin' his orders, an' we knowed he was seein' or hearin' all as went on. He was certain sure to come just when he was most wanted."

Job smiled to himself as he made mental application of these ideas to another warfare and another Captain.

"An' 'twas enough to see his face. We didn't want nothin' else, to make us feel like as if no power on earth 'd be able to conquer us. All we needed, deary, was just to know we was obeyin' his orders, an' doin' what'd please him, an' then 'twas sure to be right. I wasn't but only a young soldier then, an' hadn't but just listed six months afore; but there was some old soldiers as had gone through all the war with him, and if you'd seen what they thought o' him! It wasn't no wonder I caught it from them, an' felt the same. As for bein' beaten under the Duke, wouldn't they have called 'un a coward, only to speak o' such a thing?"

"Was he like that picture?" asked Lettie, and old Job made his involuntary salute, with raised hand, in memory of his chief.

"Sure enough, deary, so he was, when he was old, ye know. I see him once ridin' through the streets, an' everybody a-lookin' after him. He didn't know me, poor old Job Kippis livin' up in a garret, but I knowed him, an' it did my heart good to look on him too, it just did."

"I do wonder mother don't come," said Ailie.

"So do I, deary; but mayhap she's loitered somewhere, an' it's a good way she has to walk, an' there's the fog hinderin' of her. It'll be hard to pick her way through it."

The twilight deepened, and the evening waned, and Ailie's mother did not come. No tap at the door; no sound of approaching footsteps, save those passing to other rooms. Ailie wondered and waited, and waited and wondered, and grew somewhat sad in her suspense; for that forlorn and tempted woman had been a tender mother to her in the past.

"Maybe she's ashamed to show her face," murmured Job. "Fresh out of jail—no wonder. I'll go an' take a look for her."

Telling the children to remain where they were, he went down the staircase, and out into the street. It was almost deserted. Job peered about through the darkness, walked up and down the pavement once or twice, and made inquiries as to whether aught had been seen or heard of Mrs. Carter; but it was all in vain. He went up-stairs again, and told Ailie her mother had not come, nor was she likely now to do so before next day.

"Maybe some'at has hindered her," said Ailie hopefully. "I dare say we'll see her in the mornin'."

The morning was fine, and wonderfully clear for November; but no mother came. All through the long day Ailie watched, and waited, and vainly hoped; but still no Mrs. Carter made her appearance.

They could not think what might be the reason. Job in his anxiety went to the Forsyths,' and John Forsyth, having a day unhappily free from work, as was too often the case now, went off to the prison itself, undertaking the long walk out of simple kindness. He learnt there that she had been set free at the time expected, and one person, who had spoken some kind words to her on her leaving, believed she had talked of returning to her old quarters, to inquire after the whereabouts of her child. Beyond that, John Forsyth failed to meet with any traces of the poor woman's movements.

All the next day they did not give up hope; but that day passed, and the next also, and others after, and she did not come. Job Kippis and John Forsyth ceased to hope for news of her. Whatever was the cause of her absence, and whether it were through choice or compulsion, they had no means of learning any more. To all intents and purposes, little Ailie was an orphan, cast adrift upon the wide world, utterly dependent upon charity.





"LOOK ye here," said John Forsyth, having found his way into Job Kippis' garret, "it's ten days gone by, an' nothin' heard o' Mrs. Carter. Now I don't want to be interferin', nor givin' of unwelcome advice, an' ye wouldn't take the last I offered ye—worse for yerself, it may be—but I've a mind to speak to ye again on the subject."

Job nodded.

"About that there child," said John.

"Just so," responded Job.

"What be you goin' to do with her?"

"Question I've asked myself many a time. I don't see my way clear."

"It's clear enough, if ye'll open yer eyes," said John. "Send her to the work'us."

Ailie was absent from the room, or this suggestion would hardly have been received in such silence.

"Well, I don't know," said Job slowly at length. "Seems to me that don't make the way clear at all."

"I tell ye there's nothin' else to be done. You ain't young no longer, an' for you to burden yourself with a great growin' girl—it'll mayhap bring you to the work'us one day."

"Mayhap," said Job.

"You're not thinkin' in earnest of doin' it, eh?"

"Can't just tell," said Job.

"You've kept her nigh a fortnight on, in hopes o' her mother's comin' back. 'Tain't likely we'll see her now. If she haven't met with foul play o' some kind, it's like her heart failed her, an' she was 'shamed to face the neighbours, just out o' jail. She prided herself a deal on her good name. But if she don't choose to come an' take charge of her own child, what's left to Ailie but the work'us?"

"True," said Job.

"An' ye'll send her there?"

"I'll think first," said Job.

"You'll think yerself into a mighty unprudent action, if you don't look sharp," said John.

"Soon's I'm sure o' my duty, I'll act upon it," said Job.

"Your duty's to do what's prudent an' in common sense, I take it," said John.

"Maybe I've a higher rule than that," responded Job. "Maybe I've a wish to please my Master first, an' then to think o' prudence."

"You're not a-going to let any wild notions o' religion lead you to 'dopt that little 'un as your own?" expostulated John.

"No wild notions at all, I can tell ye. Simply I've a Master, an' I'm His servant, an' ye knows well enough a servant ain't free to do his own will, but only accordin' to his master's will."

"But I say ye must be practical," said John.

"Just as I means to be," responded Job. "I'm awaitin' to know my Master's will. Maybe I'll mistake it at first, an' then no fear but He'll set me right in time. Once afore 'twas you as helped me to a clearer understandin', an' I thought ye might once again too."

"I don't know nothin' about it," said John testily. "Hope I'm a honest man, an' tries to do my duty. Don't want to go beyond that."

"Beyond doin' your duty. Why, it's a wonderful man ye'd be to do that," said Job, smiling. "Don't the Bible say how the best of us is only 'unprofitable servants,' doin' never a bit more than we're told to do? An' don't it say, 'Fear God, an' keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man'?"

John was silent—a little uneasy. The duty he had set himself hardly reached so far.

"That's duty, ain't it?" said Job, looking at him with pleasant eyes. "Maybe ye haven't feared God yet as ye might ha' done, nor kept all His commandments neither."

"Never stole in my life," said John.

"Nor never took God's Holy Name in vain neither?"

"Well, I ain't never been a downright swearer as many be," said John.

"If ye've done it once, John Forsyth, the Lord 'll not hold ye guiltless," said Job.

John fidgeted.

"Maybe ye haven't never felt any envy for your richer neighbours," said Job. "Them as drives about a carriage, an' wears silk, an' jingles their money."

"Don't know why I shouldn't have as good," said John shortly.

"Then ye broke the tenth commandment too. Ye've come short o' your whole duty before God, an' no doubt about it."

"Dare say you've done the same, for all you're so hard a-condemning of me," said John.

"Sure enough—as if I didn't know that. Come short o' His commandments! Don't I come short o' them every hour o' my life? Don't I kneel down in church on Sunday, every week, an' pray the Lord to have mercy on a miserable sinner? An He's had mercy too, an' I've His promised pardon; but for all that I goes on sinning yet, for isn't my very nature full o' sin, an' will be till I go to heaven? Do my whole duty? Why, man, there's nobody ever lived on earth as did it yet, save one, an' that's the Master Himself."

"Don't see the good of expectin' of it then," said John.

"Just so," responded Job. "An' God don't expect it neither, 'cause He knows better than we ourselves, that 'tain't in our power. But He does expect one thing, an' that is that we'll give our hearts to Him. He 've given His Son to die for us, an' He wants our love back again, you see. That's it. He commands us to come to Him, an' pray, an' trust Him, an' serve Him; an' ye can't do your duty without you obeys these commands! There ain't no other way, for He commands us to be saved, an' there's no way to be saved but through the blood o' the Lamb; and so long's we neglect that, we're not a-doin' our duty. Ye'll find one day that all your duty-doin' apart from Him 'll serve ye little at the last."

"I didn't come here for a sermon," said John curtly, "but only to give ye some friendly advice."

"An' I've give ye some o' the same in return. Hope you'll follow it better than I'm like to follow yours to me."

"About that child—" said John.

"Aye, I'm thinkin' over matters. Seems to me as the Master has put her in my way, an' telled me to take her up an' do for her, poor little stray lamb as she be."

"Never saw such madness in all my life, I didn't," said John.

"Sure, no ye didn't," said Job, with a twinkle in his eye, "when ye took up a poor little orphan yourself!"

"I wasn't a man past seventy years, nor so poor as now by a long way," said John.

"Nor I haven't five children o' my own to begin with," responded Job, and the other laughed.

"Well, ye beat me there, I don't deny. But 'twasn't prudent—I sees it now."

"Maybe ye didn't do it for the Master's sake," said Job. "That'd make a mighty difference. I've a mind now to put it this way. I don't make no promises. Maybe I'll send her by and by to the work'us, an' maybe not. Maybe it's the Master's will as I should keep her. Sure, then, He'll give me the means. I'll keep the little deary so long's I've the power, an' when I haven't—why then, sure enough, I'll let her go."

"Doubt but ye won't," muttered John. "Ye've a strong will o' your own."

However, he saw that argument only tended to confirm the old man in his resolution, and he gave it up. Soon after his departure from the room, Ailie came bounding in, with a face of anxiety and suspense, amounting to terror.

"Gran'father, Lettie telled me Mr. Forsyth was come for a talk with you, 'cause he was a-sayin' I ought to be sent to the work'us. Oh, gran'father, please—" and Ailie's black eyes looked unutterably entreating.

"Do ye want for to go, deary?" asked Job.

"I don't want it!" cried Ailie. "Only to wait here till mother comes, an' to keep with you. Won't she come, gran'father?"

"Please God, one day," said Job. "We don't know nought about her. D'ye think I'll get along without my little lamb, an' be happy to think o' her away in the work'us?"

"I think ye'd want me," said Ailie wistfully. "'Cause I do cleanin' up, an'—an'—oh, gran'father, don't ye think—"

"Well, deary?"

Ailie began to cry in good earnest, and Job could not stand that.

"There now, little one, don't ye be feared. I'll keep ye so long's I've a crust to spare ye. 'Tain't much I have o' my own, but ye shall share it, sure enough. We'll wait awhile an' see. I don't make no promises, but we'll just see."

"An' maybe mother 'll come back," said Ailie. "I do love you ever so much. I don't want never to go."

There was no more talk of Ailie leaving. Quietly as before she lived on in old Job's room, sleeping in the closet at night, playing about the house and courtyard during the day. Many a half-hour would Job Kippis win her away from her ragged little playmates, to sit by him as he worked, and learn more and more of the "sweet story of old."

Lettie, too, used to creep in and listen with silent interest to the wondrous tale. Sometimes Job taught them both a short text, but this was hard work to both teacher and scholars, and the Bible stories were preferred. Ailie was always the first to grow restless. Quiet Lettie, with her shrinking from rough and boisterous games, and her love of retired corners, would often sit on and listen when Ailie had rushed away. A silent useful little maiden she was, unlike the children around her, and the one comfort of her careworn adopted mother.

Time passed thus, but nothing more was seen or heard of Mary Carter. November came to an end, and December dragged its slow length along, and still Ailie was motherless. She had almost ceased by this time to expect or hope for any change.

But a change of another kind was threatening, and a cloud was drawing near. The winter was severe, and the frost was sharp, and employment of all kinds was slack. Many men were out of work. John Forsyth's failed, or was only to be obtained by fitful snatches. Job Kippis' wavered, grew uncertain, and finally came to an end.

He could obtain no more. There Was none to be had, seemingly. He was old, and younger men were preferred. His sight had begun to fail of late, perhaps from over-toil on Ailie's account. The little stock of savings, already deeply dipped into, melted away, and want—stern want—stared them in the face.




THE last crust was eaten; the last farthing was expended; the last piece of firing was burnt; and Job Kippis sat, with his sinewy hands lying idle upon his knees, and his eyes gazing into the empty grate.

It was a cold day—bitterly cold. The wind wailed and howled round the old building, sending piercing gusts through every cranny. Snow had been falling off and on for hours, in small flakes, and every housetop bore a white covering. What a contrast between it and the grimy walls around!

Old Job Kippis was alone. He did not know what had become of Ailie during the last hour, but he was glad she was not present to see him in his despair. For a tide of woe and mistrust had crept over Job, and in very heart he was alone. A cloud had veiled his Heavenly Father's face. Heaven itself seemed far away. He only felt utter desolation.

So hard as he had worked and striven, to come to this! Was it his own fault? Had he indeed acted with weak imprudence in sheltering the homeless orphan beneath his roof? John Forsyth had warned him that one day he would rue it—that she might even bring him to the workhouse. It seemed so now.

Did he regret doing it? Hardly. He loved his little Ailie—this tender-hearted old man. But he was sorely bowed down and perplexed. So strange it seemed to him. He had brought the little one into his home to please his Master, and his Master showed no pleasure. He had trusted in his Lord, and his Lord had forsaken him.

"Leastways, I can't see Him now," said Job, lifting his gaze to the little window, where falling snowflakes and low clouds blotted out all of heaven's blue. "I can't see Him, nor feel Him, nor hear Him. Don't seem as if I could pray to Him. Ain't that bein' forsaken?"

Yes, surely he thought his Lord had forsaken him. He was entirely alone. He had no strong Arm to depend upon, or he could feel none. He had no loving Eye to guide him, or he could see none. His means were at an end. He had no more money. He had no more food. He had no more work. He was weak with fasting and weary with searching, and his limbs had refused to carry him further. He had pawned already such trifling articles as could be spared from among his scanty possessions.

"It'll come to nothin' but the work'us," said Job, in low tones. "An' I did hope the Lord 'ud keep me out o' that, for the little o' my life that's left. I'll have to send the child, an' go myself too."

Stooping more heavily forwards, he sat with his hands together, and his eyes bent on the ground. He could almost have broken forth with little Ailie's cry, "Oh, I don't want to go to the work'us—I don't want to go!" But there was no one to hear him, and he only drooped in silence beneath the dread of what he saw ahead.

So respectable and independent as he had been all his life, to come to this in his old age! It was a sore trial. Yet Job thought he could have borne it, but for the cloud of distrust which had gathered over him. Was it all in love? Had his Master indeed marked the deed done to please Him? Would the "cup of cold water" given to Ailie meet with a reward?

"Not as I did it for a reward," muttered Job; "but I did think He'd ha' helped me to get along. An' He hasn't. Ever since, I've been just goin' down an' down, an' now the money's all used. There's nothin' left."

Mechanically he drew his Bible towards him, and with trembling hands turned over a page or two.

But his eyes were dim, and his heart was heavy. The words of life that he read seemed to drop like lead, one by one, as if they had no hope, no meaning in them. He shut the volume at length with a groan.

"It's all over, an' I can't do nothin' more. I did think He wouldn't ha' forsaken me in my old age. But sure my Lord knows best."

Those last words came to him unbidden, following upon the others by mere force of habit. He had so often said them before from a full and joyful heart. Job said them now without design; but somehow they returned upon himself with singular force. "Sure He knows best. Why, don't He now? Don't He always know best? Wouldn't He show me His Face an' His glory this minute, if 'twas good for me?"

It was a little opening in the cloud, resulting from the mechanical utterance of those few words, "My Lord knows best." Job felt certain that it must be so. Down in his heart he knew it. But still the cloud did not vanish.

He took up his Bible again, and turned slowly to the story of his namesake in the early ages of the world,—of another Job bowed down beneath God's chastening hand. He had often pondered in his simple fashion over Job's conflicting faith in God, and confidence in self; over his mingled strength and weakness; over his friends' harsh yet perhaps not altogether untrue judgments passed upon him; and over God's gracious teaching and condescension at the close.

He did not read on steadily now, but turned from one page to another, gathering a verse here and there.

"'Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul?' * * *

"'For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet, yet trouble came.'

"So it has," said Job. "Nor I wasn't safe nor quiet neither, but I did trust the Lord 'ud keep me.

"'Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty.'"

Job shook his head. "It don't seem to make me happy. Ain't I wrong there? Seems like as if I must be. I'll see how it goes on.

"'For He maketh sore and bindeth up. He woundeth and His hands make whole. He shall deliver thee in six troubles, yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee.'

"'He shall deliver thee!'

"That's sayin' a deal," commented Job, falling into his usual habit. "Sure, there's a true promise. An' no evil shall touch me! No evil at all? Ain't it evil to be driven to the work'us? Why, no; not if 'tis His will. Don't the Lord know best? Don't all things work together for good, if I loves Him? Sure, there's no evil in that."

He was growing calmer now, though heavy-hearted still. The next verse that caught his eye struck to his conscience.

"'Know, therefore, that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth.'

"An' that's true, too, though 'twas one o' Job's three friends as said it, an' they was none o' the wisest; but 'tis true. Who be I, a poor sinful old man, to dare to complain o' the Lord Almighty's dealin's with me?"

The next came very near his feelings, and caused a throbbing in his heart. * * *

"'He hath stripped me of my glory and taken the crown from my head.'

"'Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me.'

"Seems to me Job had forgot there about bein' happy when God correcteth. No—'twasn't him as said that, neither, 'twas one o' his friends—but tis true, for the Bible puts just the same in other parts too, don't it? Where it says:

"'The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.'

"Ain't that the place? Well, I'll look on here, now, an' see how soon Job gets up again from bein' in the depths. Why, sure!—

"'I know that my Redeemer liveth.'"

Job stopped short. Coming almost immediately after that desponding appeal for pity, it struck straight to his heart, with a glow of triumphant confidence.

"Why, I knows it too, don't I? I knows He lives. Poor weak old man that I be, a-doubting of His love. I knows He liveth, an' He loveth too, and 'll do the best as can be for me. I knows it all. Job Kippis, ye're an old fool, to go doubtin' your Lord, 'cause He's hid His Face from you, an' given you a taste o' trouble. What if He do? What if I goes to the work'us? Ain't there a heaven an' glory awaitin' me? I know my Redeemer liveth, that I do.

"'And that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.'"

Job read so far, and paused again, turning quickly to the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew.

"Aye, there it all be. He'll stand on the earth, an' He'll sit on His throne too, and I'll stand before Him. And wouldn't I like to hear Him say to me, 'I was an hungered and ye gave Me meat; I was thirsty and ye gave Me drink; I was a stranger and ye took Me in.' An' if I falls down at sight of His glory, an' asks when, He'll say as how I did it unto Him, in doin' it for His sake to little Ailie. Sure I couldn't have been wrong in helpin' the poor stray lamb. Sure the Lord 'll not forsake old Job."

The light had come back now. Truly Job had found the Bible "a lamp unto his path." Hungry, fasting, friendless, he might be still, but the light of heaven's peace had returned, and Job smiled brightly once more, for in the depths of his heart he could say, "I KNOW that my Redeemer liveth."





ONE fine frosty morning, a few days later, Josie Therlock sat sewing by her mother's side, in the morning-room, with its blazing fire.

"Mother," said Josie.

"Yes, dear."

"I don't think there's anybody in all the whole world so good as Leveson."

"At all events there is no one more dear to us, except—"

"Yes, I know," said Josie hastily, having a great dread of allusions which might end in weeping. "But I don't mean that. I mean that he is so very good—don't you think he is almost a little too good sometimes? He has been wanting to get himself a microscope for ever so long, so that he could show me things in it. He said it would make a cheese-mite look ever so big, and a needle like a great spear. And now he has gone and spent the money on beggars."

"Not beggars, I suspect. Leveson likes to hunt out the poor and needy who do not beg."

"But you know what I mean. O dear, this seam is dreadfully long."

"Poor Josie—always in some trouble."

"I don't think there's any trouble so bad as a great long seam without any end."

"If it really had no end, I half think I could agree with you."

"Well, this hasn't—hardly," said Josie. "I can't see any as I work, and my back aches, and my fingers are so cold."

"Nurse will take you out for a walk presently."

"I like that, only nurse won't take me where I wish. She is so fond of seeing all the shops, and I don't care for them unless I have something to buy. But I haven't a penny left."

"Shall I send you to the toy-shop as a little treat, if you finish your seam nicely?"

"The toy-shop?"

"Yes, to spend a shilling for me, on something that a certain little girl would like to have for her own."

"O mother! You darling!" And Josie gave her an enthusiastic hug, returning to the seam vigorously. "I'm going to work ever so hard now, and I shall soon finish."

"I should like to see you doing as much to please me, Josie, as you will do for the sake of a shilling."

"Oh, but indeed, it isn't that I don't want to please you, only—only—" Josie paused, in perplexity how to wind up,—"only it is so hard. But, mother, do you think Leveson needed to do that—about his microscope?"

"I can't judge for Leveson."

"Because he gives ever so much away. And I wanted to see the microscope."

"That is a reason which I suspect weighed more with Leveson than any wish to have it himself. But I suppose he thought his poor people needed help, even more than you needed to see a magnified needle or cheese-mite."

Josie made no answer, and worked steadily for a while. Suddenly she sprang up with a shout—

"It's done—quite done. Isn't that good? And now may I—?"

Mrs. Therlock pulled out her purse; and Josie flew off with the shilling in her hand.

No long time passed before she found herself in the shop with nurse. Such an array of toys lay before her, that it was no easy matter to choose. There were dolls in abundance, but she had plenty at home. There were boxes of toys, but Josie considered herself rather beyond them. And after all a shilling would not do very much. Josie inquired the price of half the things she saw, at first in high spirits, which grew slightly irritable, as she found how little she could purchase.

However, she satisfied herself at last with a neat white basket, which she told nurse "would just hold her smallest doll's best frocks, which were tumbling about among all the bigger things. And mother likes me to be tidy even with my toys," added Josie, anxious to prove the wisdom of her choice.

It was a keen day, though sunshiny. The frost had lasted long, and while most of the snow had disappeared, it still lay in thick patches on the roofs, and in sheltered corners. Nurse was lingering at a shop-window, to admire the remains of some Christmas decorations, and Josie had walked on a few yards, admiring her basket as she went. She remembered all at once that it was just about here she had seen the poor little starving girl some months back, and raising her eyes at the recollection, they unexpectedly encountered the same child. The very same—Josie had no doubt about that. Face and hands indeed were cleaner, and the ragged frock had been carefully patched; but she was just as thin, just as hollow-checked, just as miserable, just as much a picture of want, as when Josie had last come across her.

"Why," Josie exclaimed involuntarily, "you're the very same little girl that was starving that day,—ever so long ago."

"I'm starvin' now," said Ailie, speaking feebly, though with a gleam of recognition.

"But if you are always starving, how is it that you never get quite starved?" asked Josie.

"I haven't been since that day. Gran'father's kept me, an' I've had enough. But he's out o' work now, and we've sold nigh everythin', an' the money's gone," said Ailie.

"I did not know you had a grandfather," said Josie. "You told me you had no home."

"Nor I hadn't," said Ailie. "An' he only makes me call him gran'father, 'cause he's so good to me. Old Job Kippis is his name. He's give me a home all these months past."

"A home where?" asked Josie.

"Up in his garret. Top of a house, down a back street nigh to here," said Ailie.

"Up in a garret! How very dreadful," said Josie. "Why doesn't your grandfather get more work?"

"He can't. He's tried. An' he says we'll have to go to the work'us."

"Why, that's just what you were afraid of last time," said Josie, dubiously. "And yet you have never been. Where's your mother?"

"I dunno," said Ailie, gulping down a sob.

"How do you mean,—don't know?"

"She's never come. They set her loose out o' jail, an' she set off for to come back, an' she never come. Nobody don't know where she is."

"I wonder if you are really telling me the truth now," said Josie thoughtfully. "I do wish Leveson were here, for he would be sure to know, and I am sure I don't."





THEY stood looking each at the other,—the little daintily-dressed girl, in her warm winter clothing, with furs, and muff, and sheltering jacket; and the poor child, with wasted frame, and hollow eyes, and threadbare rags, through which every gust of wind swept piercingly.

"Now, Miss Josie!"

"Yes, I know, nurse," said Josie, turning in self-defence at the sound of reproof. "But this is the same little girl I saw once before, and you know what mother said."

"Don't believe it is the same," said nurse shortly.

"O yes, it is, because I know her face. She has been living with her grandfather ever since,—at least she says so,—and he isn't her real grandfather, but he gave her a home when she was starving. Wasn't that it, little girl?"

Ailie nodded. "An' gran'father grows weaker an' weaker, an' there ain't a morsel to give him," she said passionately. "An' it's all along of my livin' with him, that he's come to this."

"It is very dreadful," said Josie. "I wish I had my shilling back. Nurse, couldn't you lend me a penny? I'll pay you back when I have my allowance."

"'Tisn't any way to encourage beggars," said nurse decidedly. "I wash my hands of the whole concern, Miss Josie. If you go and catch a mortal fever, and get the house broken into and burned down, and all of us shot and smothered alive, like them Fenians do in Ireland, 'tain't my fault."

"I am sure this little girl wouldn't burn anybody," said Josie. "I haven't anything to give you now, little girl, but you must come to our house this evening,—no, not this evening, because I am going out with mother to tea,—but you must come to-morrow morning. Now mind."

"Thank ye, Miss," said Ailie.

"You don't know where we live though," said Josie, and with some difficulty she made the matter clear to Ailie. "Now mind you don't forget. Number Sixteen, and you are to ask for Miss Therlock." Josie looked dignified as she spoke. "If we find out that you have told me the exact truth, we will give you help."

"An' grandfather?" whispered Ailie.

"Yes, and your old grandfather too, of course. But mother likes to help little girls best, because—"

Josie paused, and looked grave, before continuing, "Yes, I know she will help you. It always makes her so unhappy to see any little girl hungry. That is the only reason I don't like you to come to the house. But you must come, and we'll give you something to eat before she sees you, and then you won't look so pinched. I wish I had a penny here, but I haven't."

"Nor I neither, so it's no good looking at me," said nurse. "Shows how much you think of your mamma's feelings, Miss Josie,—taking to her a child like that. When you know it'll make her think of Miss Vi, and she'll cry."

"I do think of her feelings," said Josie indignantly. "But I can't leave the little girl to starve. That isn't what mother would like. Mind you come, little girl, for I shall tell my mother all about you, and it would make her very unhappy, if you didn't. So mind you come."

And with a little parting nod, she marched off, followed by nurse. Suddenly remembering that Leveson had promised to look in on them that afternoon, she quickened her steps. All the way home her mind was full of the hungry child; but on reaching the house, that subject was banished by the sight of Leveson in the passage.

"Oh, how nice! I was so afraid you wouldn't come," and she flung herself into his arms.

"I was afraid too that I could not manage it, but having told you to expect me, I thought I must spare a couple of hours."

"Is mother in?" asked Josie, clinging to him, and leading him into the dining-room. "She meant to be back early from her walk."

"No, I hear she was delayed in going out by a visitor, so she has not returned yet. You and I must be content with each other's company for a while."

"And now tell me all sorts of things, and ask me a hundred questions," said Josie, establishing herself on the sofa arm, with her hand on his shoulder. "Do!"

But Leveson was provokingly absent. He smiled and talked, but his questions were few, and his answers wide of the mark.

"What are you thinking about?" she said at length.

"Not of what you were saying, I am afraid," said Leveson, rousing himself. "I beg your pardon, Josie."

"But what is it?" asked Josie.

"Never mind now. I am afraid your tongue runs a little too fast, my small woman, for you to be trusted with secrets."

"Now, Leveson—when I kept that secret about mother's birthday present for a whole six weeks!"

"Ah, that was a different thing. And hints and conscious looks will not do here."

"I am sure I shall look conscious now," said Josie. "And mother will ask me why, and I shall tell her I don't know, so she had better ask you."

"Not if I ask you to tell her no such thing!"

"Oh, but do tell me your secret, Leveson. Indeed you may trust me. Oh, do."

Leveson shook his head, and looked out of the window.

"What is it about?" asked Josie. "Nothing bad, I suppose. No, I can see that in your face. Is it very good?"

"Almost too good to be true—if true," muttered Leveson. "I hardly dare to hope, and yet—it seems more than probable—"

"Leveson! It's about Vi," exclaimed Josie, starting up with a shriek.

"Hush, hush, Josie. I am very unwise to say so much."

"Oh, won't you—oh, do tell me," implored Josie. "Have you heard the least little bit of anything about Vi?"

"It is just possible; I can say no more than that. A friend of mine has come across a child who might be—may be—but it is all uncertain. To-morrow I shall search out all particulars, and go to see her."

"And won't you tell mother?"

"On no account. The uncertainty, and the possible disappointment after all, would half kill her. Josie, for her sake, you must allow no sign of this to escape you in her presence,—not even an allusion to what you have heard."

"No, I won't—I won't," promised Josie. "But how soon shall we know?"

"You may depend upon me to look in to-morrow evening, whether I have anything certain or not to tell you."

"Is it near here that the little girl lives? Fancy, if she is Vi!" cried Josie.

"No, far away, quite in another part of London. She lives with an old charwoman."

"Vi herself! Think of that! Won't it be a change for her to come home? Don't you think it must be Vi?"

"I can't say. It may be, but that is all, though I certainly have hopes."

"Do you think she will remember us?" asked Josie.

"Hardly possible. A little creature only two and a half years old,—but her face was not one likely to change much, and she was the very image of your mother. Do you recollect her?"

"Not much. You see I was so small—only four or five; but I remember us two playing with our dolls, together. And then the day she was lost—I haven't forgotten that. Nurse had dressed her out in that lovely worked frock, which her godmamma gave her. I know that, because nurse told me I didn't look one quarter so nice in mine, and that made me angry with Vi. We were going to tea somewhere, weren't we?—And on the way, I remember a great crowd of people, and I was frightened, and clung to nurse ever so tight, and then nurse missed Vi. And I remember how wild she was, when she hunted and couldn't find her, and no one seemed to have noticed her. And then mother's crying—oh, how dreadfully she used to cry—and nurse's illness and going away, and the new nurse coming, and mother's saying she could never leave London again till Vi was found, and how I used to long for the green fields again. I remember all quite well. Oh, if you really have found her—only think!—won't it be great, great happiness?"

"We shall never be able to thank God enough, if it is so," said Leveson. "But I hardly venture yet to hope, after all this vain searching for years."

"And then we should go into the country, shouldn't we?" said Josie. "I wish I knew. I wish you had seen the little girl."

"Only a few hours to wait, I trust. It was not till I was in the act of starting to come here, that my friend told me about her, and he could not go with me to-night, but to-morrow—early—"

"O Leveson!"

"Hush, that is my mother's step."

And hard as they both found it, they talked naturally and quietly, so that she saw nothing unusual in their faces or voices—nothing to make her suspect what was going on.




AILIE walked home slowly after her interview with Josie Therlock,—slowly, and with failing limbs, though her heart felt lightened and more hopeful. Only a few more hours, and then—

Job was lying on the bed when she went in. The little garret looked desolate, stripped of all its belongings, save the one bed, the one chair, and the carefully kept print over the fireplace. Everything else had gone in the struggle for subsistence. And though unruffled in expression, Job had a shrunken appearance.

Ailie did not bound into the room as she had once been wont to do. She came in with a dragging step, and sat down on the floor, saying merely—

"I think we'll have some'at to eat to-morrow."

"So do I, deary,—at the work'us. It's come to that now, an' nothin' else."

"Not the work'us, gran'father. I've seen the little lady again, as spoke to me once before, an' she's telled me to go to her in the mornin',—an' she'll help us, if I've told her truth."

Job's smile was pleasant to see.

"Didn't I say the Lord 'ud not forsake us?"

"Only it's hard to wait so long," whispered sinking her voice. "I feels so bad."

"Ah, it's hard to bear,—hunger—ain't it?" said Job pityingly. "Poor little dear! Wish I'd anythin' to give ye, I do."

"There ain't nothin'—" and Ailie sobbed as she leant against the wall.

"Poor little 'un,—an' I can't get up to help ye. Get yer coverlid, an' wrap it round ye, Ailie, an' have some sleep. It'll make the mornin' come faster."

Ailie brought it slowly, and coiled herself up on the floor, like a little dormouse. She did not feel inclined yet to go to her closet, and once settled down on the floor, she did not move again. They kept their clothes on for warmth, both of them, these bitter nights, and Job lay patiently on his straw mattress, beneath the scanty covering.

"If 'twasn't for the thought o' the mornin', I'd be fain to give up, an' get some'un to apply to the work'us for us. Can ye hold out, Ailie?"

"I'll hold out," said Ailie, with an attempt at cheeriness.

"It's very cold," said Job, for something worse than the chill of winter's cold was upon him. Ailie did not know how he had denied himself day after day all but the barest pittance of food, that he might have more to give her. "It's very cold," he murmured. "'Lord, give us this day our daily bread.' But the day 'll soon be over."

"Yes," said Ailie, with a sob. "An' it's the second day we ain't had no daily bread."

"He'd give it us sure, if 'twas good for us. I did think maybe He was a-thinkin' of calling me Home in that way,—but the little lady's promised to help us now, eh?"

"Yes, gran'father," said Ailie.

"Poor little deary maybe I've done wrong in consentin' to wait so long," said Job anxiously. "It's nigh too much for us both. But I can't do nothin' more to-night. Wall have to wait till mornin'."

The garret room grew still after that. They did not move or speak again for a while,—a long while. Darkness came on slowly, and they had no light, no fire. Utter darkness crept into the little garret. Yet upon one heart there, a ray of heaven's brightness was streaming, unseen by mortal eye,—unseen by little Ailie, as she crouched, weak and shivering, near the foot of the bed.

Morning broke at last, and as the light began to show through the room, there came a tap at the door. No answer was returned, and the tap was repeated, but with the same result. Then it creaked slightly, and Lettie's little face appeared inside, having vainly awaited an invitation to enter. After one glance, Lettie's eyes opened wide with fear, and she vanished. Two minutes later she reappeared, following Esther Forsyth.

"Why, I say, Mr. Kippis—are ye ill, both of ye?"

No answer came from Job when she bent over him, save a mutter, and the dim eyes were fixed. Ailie moaned, when Esther touched her.

"They're downright starved, both of 'em. An' I haven't a morsel left. Last scraps we had was eaten up last night. What'll we do?"

"I can't walk," said Ailie, rousing herself so far as to speak. "An' the little lady said she'd help us."

"What little lady? Sure the child's wanderin' in her head," said Esther.

"I ain't. 'Twas the little lady as spoke to me before; an' she telled me to go this mornin' an' she'd give me food, an' help us."

Ailie attempted to stand up, but in vain. "It's no manner o' use your tryin' to walk without victuals," said Esther. "I'll go an' beg a scrap from some o' the neighbours."

She went off, and soon came back with a good lump of dry bread, which Ailie attacked eagerly, while Mrs. Forsyth endeavoured to force a little through the closed teeth of the old man. It was a vain attempt.

She desisted, and shook her head. "I doubt me but it's too late."

"No, no, he ain't goin' to die," cried Ailie. "O I wish I could get off an' tell the little lady."

Again she started up, but fell back like an infant, and she began to sob.

"Maybe I'd do," said Lettie. "Would I be frightened to go an' speak for ye, Ailie?"

"No, no, there ain't nothin' to frighten ye," said Ailie. "She's ever so kind, is the little lady, an' she'll give ye lots to eat. Only do save a bit for gran'father."

Lettie evidently thought that entreaty superfluous, but she listened to Ailie's instructions, as to where she should go, and how she should act. Mrs. Forsyth proposed that Hor should undertake the errand; but Ailie scouted the idea. "It was little girls as the lady liked to help—it wasn't boys—and Hor wasn't a girl."

So Lettie went off alone, starting at once. The chill air pierced the scanty rags which formed her dress, and her little chilblained hands and feet were painful. But Lettie never cried about pain. She only went on steadily, growing more timid and also more hungry every pace of her way, until she reached the house to which Ailie had directed her.

Her first ring was very feeble; and after waiting a long while, shivering from head to foot in the icy wind, she ventured to give a second pull. This time she was heard. The door opened, and a tall servant looked down impatiently on the small child.

"A beggar—we don't want beggars here," she said shortly.

"Please," entreated Lettie, "the little lady said—"

"Are you the child Miss Josie told to come for some food?"

Lettie hardly knew what to say; and at that moment a voice called down the stairs—

"Harrison, if it is my poor little girl, she is to wait in the hall, and I'll be down in a few minutes. Give her that basket of things on the sideboard, and tell her she may eat what she likes, and take the rest home."

Every word of the message reached Lettie. "Well," said the tall servant, "are you the child?"

"Please, she's sent me," whispered Lettie. "She's ill, and can't walk."

"Fever?" asked the servant, drawing back.

"No—starvin'," said Lettie.

"Oh!" said the servant, as if that were a matter of secondary importance. "Well, come in and take the basket, and eat what you like, till Miss Josie comes down."

Lettie took the basket obediently, and stood close to the door, which was left merely on the latch. She peeped inside, and wondered at the nice rolls and the pat of beautiful butter which met her gaze; but she was far too timid to venture to take any.

Suddenly a lady came down the stairs and passed towards the door of a room. She paused a moment, turning with a sweet sad smile to look at the little ragged figure standing there. But it was a smile that changed all at once—changed suddenly and strangely—changed to something that Lettie could not understand. A livid whiteness came over the lady's face; a hoarse shriek echoed wildly through the house; and throwing up her hands convulsively in the air, she fell senseless to the ground.

Lettie could not stand that! Without a moment's consideration, and before she knew what she was doing, she had rushed out of the house, and fled at full speed down the street—quite unconsciously grasping still her basket of eatables. Nor did she once slacken speed, or dream of turning back, till she again reached home.





"LEVESON!" and with a cry of joy Josie sprang to meet her brother. "Oh, how glad I am that you have come at last!"

"Why, Josie, my dear little Josie, I am sorry I said anything to you of my secret, if it has agitated you like this," said Leveson. "And I have nothing but disappointment for you."

"About Vi—then you know it wasn't her?"

"No, the story has come to nothing. I have seen the child, and inquired thoroughly into her history, and—"

"Oh, only think," exclaimed Josie, patience failing her—"only think, there came a little girl to the house this morning—not my little beggar girl, because she was ill, and sent this one in her stead—and oh, Leveson, mother saw her and she says it is Vi."

"Vi! Impossible!"


She paused a moment to look at the little figure standing there.

"She says so. She goes on saying it over and over again. She saw the little girl in the passage, and she screamed and fell down as if she were dead. It was so dreadful. And the little girl must have been frightened away, for we found her gone. Mother gave such a shriek that I heard it up in my room—so loud!"

"Poor mother!" murmured Leveson. "She has been heart-broken about that child."

"And we don't know in the least where the little girl lives. Oh, how we have wanted you! Nurse doesn't know what to do, and I was sure that, if we sent, you would be out, so it would not bring you any sooner than you meant to come this evening. Mother has been ill all day—crying and laughing and talking so fast, and calling out, 'It's my Vi—my own little Vi!' She frightens me so. I am glad you have come!" Josie's clinging hands and catching sobs told of the shock she had herself received.

Leveson held her in his arms, kissing the flushed face. "What makes mother think it is Vi, Josie?"

"Oh, her face. Mother says it is just the same as when she was a baby,—not altered in the least."

"Ah, my mother always declared she should recognize her anywhere by her eyes."

"Blue, were they not?" said Josie.

"Yes, blue of a very peculiar tint and peculiar shape, and there was a curious deep dimple in each of her cheeks. It was not a face likely to change much."

"Wasn't she like mother?"

"As like as you are to our father. The very image of her. But come, you must take me in now. Is she down-stairs?"

"No, she is in her room, and nurse wanted her to go to bed, but she will only lie on the sofa. How glad she will be to see you!"

They went up-stairs, and Leveson's cheerful voice had a soothing sound, as he entered the room.

"How do you do, mother? Josie has told me your good news."

Josie drew back, frightened at the burst of weeping which followed his entrance; but Leveson held her hand, with an encouraging glance, and presently Mrs. Therlock raised her face, all tears and smiles.

"This is very weak, very ungrateful; but oh—to think that my child is found, and that I should have driven her from home again."

"Not driven far at all events," said Leveson. "Now suppose you tell me all that happened, and why you think it is Vi, so that I may know how to act."

"Think! I know it is Vi," sobbed Mrs. Therlock. "My own little darling. So shivering, and poorly clad, and half-starved; but I knew her—I knew her—I should know her anywhere."

"Know her by what?"

"Her face, her eyes, her mouth, her dimples,—the very manner—that quaint timid manner. She is the most perfect image of the old likeness taken of me when I was eight years old. And you know how like to me Vi was always considered. She has hardly changed in the least—only so thin and white, my poor little precious one. To think she should have been living near, and I to know nothing about it! But there is no possibility of a mistake. I know—I am certain it is her. Vi! Vi! How am I to get my child?"

"Mother, if you excite yourself so much, I shall not dare to talk to you on the subject," said Leveson. "I am afraid you will make yourself ill. Try to be quiet, while Josie tells me how it came about. Tell me all you know about the little girl, dear."

"Why, you know that starving child I saw once," said Josie. "And the day before yesterday—no, yesterday evening—afternoon I mean—"

"Tell me gently. Don't be in a hurry—" For Josie hardly seemed to know what she was saying.

"Yesterday I met her, just in the same place as before, and close to the same fountain. I have shown you the place, you know. Nurse was a little way behind, but I stopped and spoke to her, and she said she was starving again. She had been living with an old man up in a garret, she said, and she called him 'grandfather,' because he was so good to her. And I asked after her mother, but she never came back at all, after she was set free from jail.

"I had spent my shilling, and I had no money, so I told her to come to-day for some food. And this morning I was up in my room, when I heard the front door opened, and Harrison saying something about not wanting beggars. So I called out that the little girl wasn't to go away, but was to have the basket of food, which I had put out for her before breakfast, and was to wait in the hall till I came down, because nurse was mending my frock just then."

"And you thought it was the child you had seen before?"

"Yes, but Harrison says that she said she was not, but had been sent, because that little girl was ill from starving and couldn't come. And then just as I was going down-stairs, I heard mother call out, and nurse and I rushed down and found her fainting. And we were so frightened that no one remembered anything more about the little girl, until mother began to ask for her, and then we found that she was gone."

"Josie, don't call her 'the little girl!' She is Vi—your own little sister Vi," said Mrs. Therlock feverishly.

"Did she leave the basket?" asked Leveson.

"No, that was taken," said Josie. "I suppose she was so hungry that she didn't forget it in her fright. Do you think she really can be Vi?"

"It is," said Mrs. Therlock. "I cannot bear any doubts. I can't bear them, Leveson. Only find her for me."

"You cannot tell me anything more about her?" said Leveson. "A friend of the other child's, did you say, Josie?"

"I only know she was sent by her," said Josie. "That is all. But if you could find the other child, you could find her—Vi, I mean," she added, with a frightened glance at her mother.

"What is the other's name?"

"I don't know. I never thought of asking. It was so stupid, but nurse scolded, and that put it out of my head. Oh, Leveson, only think, if I had stopped that day we were going to Hampton Court, I might—"

"Hush, never mind now," said Leveson in a low voice, with a look which Josie understood. "Did you ask where she lived?"

"I think I said something about it, because she told me it was up in a garret of a house, not far from where she was then," said Josie.

"Come, that is not so bad. 'Not far' in London means a great deal. And she lives with an old man, you say?"

"Yes. I can't remember his name exactly, but it was Job something—Job Kips, or Job Kippers. Nurse says it was Job Klips, but I don't think there was any 'l' in it."

"That is quite a clue. There are not likely to be two men with such a singular name. I hope I shall hunt him out with no great difficulty. And we must remember too, that even if I could not easily discover him, it is pretty certain that you will see something more of the little granddaughter. If they are in want, they will probably apply again for assistance, though of course I have no intention of waiting for the chance."

"Yes, I have been hoping all day that the little girl—Vi, I mean—might come back, when she got over her fright; but she hasn't. And they have the food."

"But you will find them soon," said Mrs. Therlock. "Leveson, tell me you will."

"At least I can promise to do all in my power," said Leveson gently. "Trust,—only trust, mother, and all will turn out well. I believe we shall find our darling has been guarded all these years—that our prayers for her have been answered. She may have been in a rough school, but a rough school is sometimes the best in the end."





TWO days of incessant inquiry passed by, leading to no result. Hour after hour Leveson wandered from street to street, from house to house, from shop to shop, asking the same questions over and over again, but always with the same result. Nobody could tell him anything of Job Kips, Klips, or Kippers,—and as for motherless and fatherless children, he might find them by the score. But he came upon no little Vi.

Not till the third afternoon did he meet with a clue. Asking an old vegetable vendor, at the corner of a dirty back street, the oft reiterated question, and at the same time making a slight purchase to secure a civil answer, she looked him in the face with a shrill laugh.

"Job Kips,—an' what if I does know a old man, as is named Job Kippis? Mayhap 'tisn't the same."

"Probably it is," said Leveson. "At all events I should be glad to know where Job Kippis lives."

"Ain't a 'tective, eh?" said the old woman. "He's a honest man, he be."

"I am no detective. I am a clergyman," responded Leveson. "You need have no fear that the old man will gain harm from my visit."

"Nay, if yer be a parson, he'd likely be glad to see yer, for they says he be ill."

"Tell me where he lives, and I will give you a shilling," said Leveson. "Or show me the house, and you shall have half-a-crown."

The old creature's eyes twinkled. She left her barrow of vegetables in charge of a girl, and led him off at a brisk pace round the corner,—into a gloomy street, with overhanging houses, blackened and grimy to a degree which even he, in all his city work, had rarely seen surpassed.

"Them—he be up in top front garret there. He 've often dealt wi' me till work failed him, an' spoke many a civil word too, he have. Where be yer half-crown, parson?"

"One moment,—" and Leveson turned to a woman passing by with a baby in her arms. "Is there an old man named Job Kippis living here?"

"Sure enough, up in a top garret," was the answer, and the half-crown was slipped into the old woman's hand, whereupon she went off chuckling. Leveson detained the other woman for a moment.

"Can you tell me anything about Job Kippis? I suppose you know him?"

"He be ill now,—was nigh starved t'other day, an' couldn't hardly be brought round."

"Has he a grandchild?"

"None of his own kith an' kin. He 've took little Ailie Carter for his own, an' nigh come to the work'us. An old man like him weren't fit for the charge."

"Is Ailie ill?"

"Both on 'em was found nigh starved by a neighbour t'other mornin'. Ailie's a-pickin' up now."

"Has any one helped them?" asked Leveson.

"Some gentlefolks gev a basket o' food. But for them, I doubt they wouldn't ha' pulled old Job through. But likely 'tis all gone now."

"That basket—" said Leveson, hardly able to speak steadily. "Ailie, you say, was ill. She could not go to fetch the basket. Who was the little girl that went in her stead?"

"Little girl in her stead—" repeated the woman absently, being occupied in wondering how the gentleman came to know so much about the matter, and deciding that he must have sent the food himself. "I'm a poor widder, sir, and 'ud be glad of help."

"If you will answer my questions, I am willing to give you a shilling for taking up so much of your time," said Leveson, not liking the assumed whine, yet feeling that the poor thing might need assistance.

"Sure, sir, I'll answer aught I can. Little girl sent in Ailie's stead,—why 'twas Lettie Forsyth."

"Lettie Forsyth!" repeated Leveson. "Who are her parents?"

"Well, now I comes to think of it, sir, I've heard as she ain't got none. But she be for all the world like to their own child."

"Will you kindly direct me to the Forsyths' rooms?" said Leveson, and he followed her up the staircase, on which numerous children sat and crawled, played and quarrelled; one and all pausing to stare in amazement at the well-dressed stranger as he passed. Leveson looked pityingly on the little ones,—unwashed, uncombed, untaught, uncared for, unconscious of a Saviour's love, unknowing a Redeemer's story. Oh, this mighty London harvest,—how few the labourers in comparison with the work awaiting them!

"And there is room in the fold for one and all, if we could but call them in!" murmured Leveson to himself.

Reaching the upper floor but one, Leveson's guide opened a door, and called out, "I say, Mrs. Forsyth, here be a parson come to see yer." Thereupon the promised reward was given, and a kind word with it.

The next moment Leveson stood in an ill-furnished room, where two infants sat on the floor, and a woman was busy at a loom. No one else was present. She rose and placed a rickety chair for the gentleman,—then waited, with no lightening up of her tired look.

"May I have a few words with you?" said Leveson, and his gentle manner won her confidence at once. He entered without delay upon the subject in his mind, for suspense was becoming unbearable. "I am anxious to hear something about the little girl under your charge."

"Under our charge—Lettie, ye'd say," returned Esther, as his meaning dawned on her.

"Yes. I believe she is not your own child."

"Seems like as if she was," said Esther. "It don't make no difference. John and I loves her as if she was our own."

"May I ask who were her parents?"

Esther shook her head. "I don't know nothin' about 'em, sir. She were a poor little starvelin' a-wanderin' alone, an' like to drop. An' we took her in out o' pity, an' she were that pretty an' clinging in her ways, we couldn't part with her. John, he did talk o' the work'us, but we couldn't send her,—we couldn't. We wasn't so poor then as we be now."

"How long ago was this?"

"Five years agone, sir,—over that."

"Five—" repeated Leveson.

"An' she were a mite of a child then, an' couldn't speak plain."

"Did you make no effort to discover her home?"

"'Twasn't much we could do, sir. We didn't live in this part then," and Esther sighed. "We'd plenty o' work, an' was well off. But John, he wanted to get on, an' he heard o' higher wages elsewhere, an' he couldn't be content to stay on where he was."

"Where were you then?"

"Some way off o' this, sir—a good hour's walk. We was starting the very next day after we found Lettie, an' we took the child with us. John did ask about her, but nobody couldn't tell nothin', an' he left word with a neighbour to let it be known, if there was any inquiries. But we never heard nothin' more. There's many a little one forsook by its parents, an' that's what we thought with Lettie—only sometimes at first I'd a fancy she wasn't a poor child born, for all her rags an' tatters. But that's all I knows about her, an' she was too young to tell us more. She'd cry for her mammy—not as I think she called her that, she spoke her words so queer—but she was easy comforted, an' Hor an' she took together wonderful. 'Twas only two years ago we came back to London, an' since then we've been goin' down an' down, till I don't know where it's to end."

"What made you call the child 'Lettie'?" inquired Leveson.

"'Twas the best it seemed to us. She couldn't speak plain; but she telled us her name was Wilet, or Wiletta, or somethin' like; but it sounded queer, so we just called her Lettie. 'Twas most times, 'Baby wants this,' when she asked for anythin'; an' sometimes she'd say, 'Wi wants it.' But we couldn't call a child Wi, sir, an' she soon forgot."

"Violetta—little Vi," said Leveson, with pale and trembling lips, at which Mrs. Forsyth gazed in amazement. "Little Wi—the old baby name. How we used to laugh at her for saying it! Little Vi—O God, I thank Thee—found at last!"

And then raising his face, which he had bent in deep and wondering gratitude, he told Esther of the little lost one, over whom they had mourned, and for whom they had vainly sought, these five years past.





"NOW ain't it just wonderful?" said Esther Forsyth, in overwhelming astonishment. "To think o' that! Little Lettie as has lived with us all this while—an' for a gentleman like yerself, sir, to be her brother."

"But how to thank you enough for all your tender care of our little lost one, I do not know," said Leveson, with moist eyes and unsteady voice. "When I think of what might have become of her, but that you took pity—"

"Twasn't no praise to me, sir," said Esther. "It's a dear child she 've been; so good an' handy with the boys; an' never giving a scrap of trouble. I don't know what I'll do without her."

"You are a mother, Mrs. Forsyth. Think what her mother has suffered all these years. And she has only one child beside."

"Lettie 'll be a deal better off," said Esther unselfishly. "It's many a day an' night she's knowed cold an' hunger, when we hadn't victuals nor fire to give her."

"I have a great deal more to say to you—much that I wish to do as a proof of our gratitude," said Leveson. "But I must leave that now till another day. I long to take the dear child to her mother. What do you think she will feel herself when she hears it?"

"Lettie? I'll call her in. She'll be main glad, if she 've sense to know her own interests. She be down now in the court, a-keeping watch over Roger—that's our half-witted boy, sir. Dear, dear, how the boys 'll ever get along without her.—But I'll go an' bring her in."

"And do not tell her anything by the way, if you please. Only say a gentleman wants to see her."

Mrs. Forsyth nodded assent, and hurried off, her silent nature for once aroused to excitement. Leveson waited with all the patience he could muster, till Esther reappeared with a slight child, in ill-mended rags, following after her. But the little face that looked up shyly into his—Leveson did not wonder at his mother's instant recognition, so marvellous was the resemblance in feature and expression, not only to the lost infant of five years earlier, but to Mrs. Therlock herself.

Very tenderly, he lifted her upon his knee, for he was anxious not to startle the little one, and in his gentlest voice he said, "You don't know who I am, do you, Lettie?"

"Mother telled me a parson was come," said Lettie's shy deliberate tones.

"What do you think the parson has come for?"

"Dunno," whispered Lettie.

"Lettie, you are very fond of Mrs. Forsyth, are you not?"

Lettie nodded, and corrected him with the word "Mother."

"But she's not your own real mother, you know."

"Yes, she be," said Lettie unexpectedly.

"No, no, I ain't," said Esther, disposed to be tearful.

"'Cause Hor says you is, and I'm every bit his sister, an' he won't have nobody say 'tain't," responded Lettie, with decision.

"But, Lettie, though Mrs. Forsyth has been very very kind and good to you for a great many years, yet she is not your own mother," said Leveson. "Would you not like to see your own real dear mother?"

Lettie looked dubious.

"I say, Lettie, don't ye remember anythin' of the days afore ye lived with us?" said Mrs. Forsyth.

"Dunno," murmured Lettie.

"Don't you remember a kind gentle lady, who used to kiss little Lettie, and hold her in her arms, and give her nice presents?" asked Leveson.

"No," said Lettie.

"Don't you remember nursie, whom you loved so much? One day she put such a pretty frock on Lettie, and took her out to walk; and then there was a great crowd, and somebody carried off Lettie, and stole her nice clothes. Don't you remember all that?"

Lettie shook her head.

"She were such a mite," said Esther.

"I does 'member one big white flower," said Lettie.

"What, a tall flower, in a pot, with long green leaves, standing in a window?"

Lettie nodded this time.

"That was called a calla, and it used to be in my room. Strange that she should remember the flower, and forget all else," added Leveson.

"She 've no recollection, sir, of havin' been lost," said Esther.

"Was it parson's big white flower?" asked Lettie, evidently interested.

"Yes, it was my flower. Lettie, we used to call you, Little Vi, in those days. And you used to cry, and say, 'Little Wi wants that f'ower.'"

"An' did little Vi have it?" asked Lettie, not clear as to who the said child might be.

"No, but she was going to have it as soon as it began to fade, and just before then something very sad happened. Shall I tell you a story?"

Lettie nodded with some energy.

"Once there was a lady who had two little girls. One was called Josie, and one was called Vi. She was very very fond of them both, and they used to live with her in the beautiful country, among the grass, and the trees, and the flowers. But they came up to London sometimes, to an old house that belonged to the lady, though they never stayed long.

"And one day, while they were there, the two little girls were going out to tea with another kind lady. So nurse dressed them up, and Vi had on a very beautiful frock, which had been given her as a present. Then nurse took them out to walk to the lady's house; but on the way, there was a great crowd of people, and in the crowd, nurse all at once lost sight of little Vi. She looked for her, and hunted for her, but it was of no use. I think some wicked man, when he saw little Vi alone, must have carried her off for the sake of her pretty frock.

"Then nurse went home, and she cried a great deal, and the other little girl cried a great deal, and the poor mother cried most of all—oh, so much and so sadly. But no one could find little Vi. The lady said she could never leave London and go into the country again, until her little Vi was found, so she went on waiting, and hoping, and grieving, and no one could find her little Vi. And more than five long years passed away, and still the poor mother was sorrowful at the thought of her little lost child."

"Didn't she never be happy again?" asked Lettie.

"I think she will be happy soon. When I take home her little lost Vi to her this afternoon, I think she will be quite happy."

"And won't cry no more?"

"No,—no more, because she will be too glad to cry."

Then, after a pause, "Lettie, will you come home with me?"

Lettie shook her head.

"Wouldn't you like to live in a pretty house, and have plenty to eat, and all sorts of lovely flowers and nice playthings?"

"I'd like to bring 'em to mother," said Lettie.

"So you shall—all sorts of things. But you must come home with me first."

Another sign of dissent.

"And we will go into a shop by the way, and order in a good supper for Hor and all of them," whispered Leveson.

"Will we?"

"To be sure we will."

"I'll come," said Lettie.

At all events she trusted him. "I don't see as she understands yet," said Mrs. Forsyth.

"Better not too quickly. It will all come in time. Now, Mrs. Forsyth, I will ask you just to wash her hands and face for me, and then I will take her away. Don't think it is good-bye. I shall soon bring her round to see you all."

But Esther took the child to the corner of the room, and washed and cried over her together. "It's but ragged an' shabby she be, sir, but I couldn't do no better—not even for my own," she said.

"I am sure of it," said Leveson kindly; and as he rose he held out his hand for a hearty grasp. "We owe you a heavy debt, Mrs. Forsyth, and I will take care it is not forgotten."

With Lettie's hand clasped in his own, and her little feet pattering by his side, he went down the broad staircase, and out into the gloomy street. What a place! To think that his little sister could have lived here so long! He looked down on the small grave face, and then, as they came to some sharp stones, he lifted her up in his arms, pitying the tiny feet. Lettie submitted in silence. A gentleman to be carrying her! It was something unusual, certainly, in her experience, and she waited to see what would happen next.

To Leveson it mattered nothing at all that people stared at the sight of the well-dressed young clergyman carrying such a ragged little object through the streets. What signified rags to him? He only pressed her the closer in his arms, with a rush of love, and Lettie looked up in wonder to say:

"Is you glad?"

"Glad! My dear little sister!" was the response.

And Lettie's serious face showed that some comprehension of the truth was gaining entrance into her mind.





THEY stopped at a baker's shop—Lettie still borne in the arms which could not weary of their burden—and there Leveson ordered loaves and rolls sufficient to supply the Forsyth family for a week at least. At another shop, he desired that a goodly pat of butter and a quart of milk should be despatched to the same quarter; from another, he sent tea and sugar; and finally a joint of meat was ordered to follow in the morning. After which he hailed a cab, and stepped into it, sitting with Lettie on his knee, not making her talk, but watching the bewildered gravity of the little face, and tracing more strongly every moment the likeness to little Vi of old.

Home at last. Leveson paid and dismissed the cabman, then lifted Lettie up the steps and into the hall. Josie came rushing to meet him, but stopped short at the sight of the ragged little stranger.

"Yes, Josie, it is Vi herself," said Leveson.

Josie looked extremely perplexed what to do.

Lettie made no move, of course; and Josie was much more sensitive to the rags than Leveson had been.

But a quick "Josie, have you no welcome to offer?" recalled her to herself, and taking Lettie's hand, she kissed her shyly, letting the hand drop again the next moment. It felt very uncomfortable. Somehow this was not at all like the rapturous and enthusiastic re-union that she had always imagined for Vi's return; and that silent timid poor child did not seem in the least like her own sister. There was something unreal about the whole matter, and Josie looked distressfully at her brother.

"Patience, dear; it will all come right in time," said Leveson comprehendingly. "Where is my mother?"

"Up-stairs. She heard you come, and she said she was sure, by the way you shut the door, that you had some good news."

"Come, then, she is prepared," said Leveson. "We will go to her at once."

Leading the passive little Lettie by the hand, he took her to the door of the room, and entered alone. But he had no need to break the good news. One look at his face told all. "Vi!—She is found!" were the only words heard, broken by a stifled cry; and then Lettie was folded in such a passionate embrace, that it seemed as if she could never again be set free. Words failed here. Even sobs were silent in that first five minutes of unutterable joy, and only the pressure of the mother's arms spoke of what was passing in the mother's heart.

But she regained self-command. For the sake of her child, she sat up, and smiled, and looked into the little strange yet familiar face, and stroked back the uncombed hair, and kissed the thin though dimpled cheeks. "Vi, my little pet—my little darling—have they told you who I am? Do you know me, sweet one? Do you love me, precious Vi?"

"Call her Lettie—that is the name she knows," whispered Leveson.

"I wants mother," murmured Lettie, who was growing alarmed at such vehement caressing; and seeing this, Mrs. Therlock forced herself to be calm.

"You shall have her again another day," said Leveson, laying his hand on Lettie's head. "But this is mother, Lettie, and you are going to learn to love dear mother very much. Do you remember that story I told you?"

Lettie nodded.

"This is the poor mother who was so unhappy; but now she is happy, because she has her lost child back again."

"She ain't happy—she's a cryin'," said Lettie.

"Only because she is so very glad that she doesn't know what to do. Isn't Lettie glad to come to her own dear mother?"

"I wants—mother," said Lettie, with trembling lips.

"And won't you have me for a mother, sweet one?" asked Mrs. Therlock.

"Don't you think some of my frocks and things that I have outgrown would do for Lettie?" demanded Josie suddenly. "She is so very ragged."

This was a practical turn given to affairs. "Would you like a pretty frock, Lettie?" asked Leveson. "And some shoes and stockings?"

"Hor does want a jacket ever so, 'cause he can't get no work," said Lettie.

"You darling, he shall have it," said Mrs. Therlock eagerly. "Give me a kiss, and Hor shall have a new jacket."

"And now Josie shall take her to nurse in the next room, and see what can be done in the way of dress," said Leveson, when that request was acceded to. "No, mother, you must lie quiet. I cannot have you overdo yourself, and I have a great deal to tell you. They will become better acquainted if they are alone together," he added, in a lower voice.

Mrs. Therlock submitted, though she gazed longingly after the little pair as they disappeared. She had many things to ask and hear—many particulars concerning Leveson's search—how he had found Lettie; with whom she had lived; what had been the manner of her life; and why and when the Forsyths had first taken her up.

Leveson had so much to say, that before he had finished, the door again opened, and the two little sisters entered, hand in hand—Lettie arrayed in a blue merino frock, outgrown by Josie, with her hair brushed smoothly behind her ears, and a neat pair of shoes and stockings on her feet. The pleased smile on the little face was even a greater change.

"Little pet! You like your new frock, don't you?" said Mrs. Therlock, drawing her close for another embrace. "Does it feel warm and comfortable?"

"She looks nice, doesn't she?" said Josie, as Lettie nodded. "I feel somehow as if she were really more like my sister now."

"Do you know what to call this little girl, Lettie?" asked Leveson, touching Josie's shoulder.

"Miss Josie," promptly responded Lettie.

"No, only 'Josie,' because she is your sister. And what are you to call me?"

Lettie attempted no answer.

"You must call me Leveson. It is a hard name, isn't it? But you will soon learn how. And this lady?"

"I dunno," said Lettie.

"Won't you call me 'mother,' darling?" asked Mrs. Therlock.

But Lettie thought of another, and at once said—


"'Mamma,' then, sweet one."

Lettie nodded. She was very sparing of her words that evening, grave, demure, silent, and submissive. They gave her a good tea which she heartily enjoyed, and Josie brought out numberless toys afterwards, making her presents generously of the best among them; but Lettie would only show pleasure by looks, not by words.

Mrs. Therlock could not bear to have her out of her sight, though as yet there was no return of affection, and when they put her to bed, she sobbed herself to sleep for "mother." Her own mother, sitting near, shed a good many tears in company, but she knew how time would work, and she was too happy and thankful for the great mercy of having her child restored, to dwell on minor troubles.

Josie was happy too, yet not without a cloud. Leveson saw and understood. When Lettie was gone to bed, and Mrs. Therlock had vanished to watch by her side, he took Josie on his knee, and said, "Well, little sister?"

Josie sighed.

"It has been a bright day for us, has it not?"

Josie hung her head, and said, "I'm glad she's found."

"Only that?"

"I am glad," said Josie, with a little sob. "And I don't want to be nasty and cross,—only mother does kiss her so very very much."

"Don't you think it is natural she should?"

"She hasn't remembered to give me one kiss all the evening," said Josie, another sob welling up from the depth of her heart.

"Think of the five long years that you have had all the kisses she had to give—and poor little Lettie without one."

"I know, but that makes it harder to bear," said Josie, in a choked tone. "And Lettie doesn't care. And I shall only have half of mother now, and I used to have the whole of her."

"And do you think, Josie, that all the love she gives to Lettie will take away one feather's weight from what she has always given to you?" Then putting his arm round her, he quoted, "'Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad, for this thy brother'—thy sister—'was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.'"

"But you don't think I'm like that elder brother, do you?" said Josie indignantly. "Because he didn't like to see the fatted calf killed, or the best robe given; and I am sure I liked ever so much to see Vi eating the plum-cake, and dressed in my old blue frock."

"Perhaps the old blue frock does not occupy quite the same space in your thoughts, as the best robe did in those of the elder brother. He was jealous, you see, not at his brother having the same that he had himself, but because he had better."

Josie sighed. "I don't mean to be jealous. I'm sure I shouldn't like to be."

"Then fight it in the right way, dearest, when the feeling comes, and remember that mother has to win Vi's heart, while she is sure of yours. That makes a great difference. And you will try to win her also to love you, will you not?"

"Yes, I mean to be kind," said Josie, in a low voice. "I did try this evening."

"And you succeeded too, dear. Vi will soon learn to love you dearly, if you go on as you have begun."





LYING still upon the mattress of his garret bed, with only one thin blanket over him, his brown wasted hands clasped across his broad chest, and some flakes of silvery hair straying over the wide sunburnt brow, on which the very peace of God seemed stamped as with God's own signet-stone,—so lay Job Kippis, as he had lain and never yet arisen since the day when "daily bread," but not "daily comfort," had failed him. Ailie sat on the foot of the bed, and Hor had taken up his station near on the broken chair, with his face towards the back, and his chin bent down upon his hands.

"'Tis very well, all that," he said discontentedly, "an' I dare say it's a deal better for her. I don't say 'tisn't; but I says I'd rather ha' kep' her with ourselves, I would."

"Aye, we're selfish mortals, the best among us," said Job. "Talk o' lovin' our friends, an' then when God wants to take 'em home to glory—oh, no, we're all for prayin', an' weepin', an' wantin' to keep them among their troubles an' away from happiness, just as long as we can. It's a selfish love at the best, it is, lad."

"I'm not a-talkin' of dyin'. I'm a-talkin' of Lettie," said Hor.

"And I'm a seein' pictures, lad, as I loves to do. Ain't the world full o' pictures, an' people won't see 'em with their blind eyes? Ain't it all a picture about little Lettie now, if we'll see it?"

Hor made an inarticulate sound, which might have meant anything.

"A pictur' of what, gran'father?" asked Ailie.

"Why, deary, here she was a-livin' in this poor part, all among the mire an' mud as one may say, half-starved, an' ill-clothed, an' knowing nothin' better,—an' never dreamin' she had a happy home awaitin' her, an' them that loved her elsewhere."

"We loved her," said Hor.

"True for you, boy,—an' much your love could do for her! Weren't she half-starved, an' half-frozen, an' a poor little thin object, wantin' all sorts o' things she couldn't get. 'Happy,' was it, you think her,—aye, maybe she was in her blindness, never knowin' what 'twas to be better off. An' then her brother—a lovin' kind elder brother—" Job smiled as he spoke the words,—"comes an' seeks her out, an' hunts for her and finds her at last. He wants to take her off home, where she'll have all she needs,—food, an' dress, an' play, an' learnin', an' love, an' everything. He loves her, and he's good to her, an' she don't like to go with him. Don't like it a bit. Wants to stay all among the rags, and the dirt, and the starvin'. But he won't leave her. He don't carry her off against her will, but he pleads, an' he begs, an' he wins her in love, and at last she goes. Then as they're agoin', he lifts her up in his arms an' carries her, for Mrs. Forsyth says she see him doing it herself. Ah, it's a lovin' elder brother little Lettie's found. But maybe now it seems hard to leave all she's knowed an' loved, and she don't understand how all she's agoin' to have will more than make up for what she 've lost,—ever so much more. Ah, she don't know that yet, Ailie."

"Yes, gran'father," said Ailie, as Job paused.

"Well, now, deary, ain't that a picture,—a beautiful picture o' somethin' else. Don't we read in God's Word of another Brother—a kind lovin' elder Brother,—who comes seekin' an' searchin' after the poor little lost brothers and sisters, living down among the mire of earth. Then when He finds 'em, it's oftentimes they won't go with Him. No, they'd rather stay where they be, an' they can't leave the things they love, an' they're quite content as they are,—poor starvin' souls. An' then He pleads, an' He begs, an' He commands, an' sometimes they'll go at last. An' when He sees how weak they be, an' how the sharp stones cuts the poor feet, He takes 'em right up, an' carries 'em along on their way. It's all a beautiful picture, what's happened to little Lettie—a beautiful picture o' somethin' better an' greater, an' yet like to it. Ain't it now?

"But all the love an' the care she'll get in her new home, is just nothin' at all, beside what the Lord Himself gives to them He seeks an' finds, when they go along with Him. For all things are ours then,—all things in heaven an' earth."

"Seems to me you'd work most everythin' into a pictur'," said Hor.

"And so I would, boy, sure enough. There's meanin' to be worked out o' most things, if we'd see it. Ain't the whole world a lookin' glass, made for nothin' but to reflect God's love, an' power, an' glory? Ain't a lookin' glass full o' pictures, an' all o' them a-changin' too. There's nothin' in the world that don't picture forth God's love, save sin, and that's the one great blemish over everythin'. See ye fight against sin, boy, an' ye'll be doin' work for God. If ye're not workin' for God, ye're pretty sure workin' for Satan. There's only the choice between them two kinds o' work, an' ye must do one or t'other. There ain't no neutral ground in that war,—leastways those who thinks themselves neutral are always found, sooner or later, to be Satan's spies an' secret workers, and it'll be worst of all for them."

He had spoken with growing energy, but he paused here, and lay silent for a while, looking towards the small window, where a gleam of blue sky and wintry sunshine, seen through a smoky atmosphere, were visible. "Will you have some'at to eat, gran'father?" asked Ailie.

"Thank'ee, deary, I don't seem to want it. The cravin's gone now we've a plenty."

For Mrs. Forsyth had shared her gifts of the previous evening with her neighbours, and a good half-loaf and a tiny piece of meat might have been seen on the corner of the mantel-shelf.

"Gran'father, d'ye think we'll see Lettie here again?" asked Ailie presently.

"No," said Hor. "They'll take precious good care she don't come among us poor folk no more."

"Ye're unjust, boy," said Job. "'Twas only yester' mornin' she were taken home. D'ye think she'd ha' come or could ha' come before this?"

"I don't think as she'll come at all," said Hor, doggedly. "I tells mother she's lost to us, she be. An' much the gentlefolk 'll care for what we feels about her."

"Aye, you an' she was mighty close friends. 'Tis hard on ye, boy, to lose her so sudden," said Job. "But 'tis all for her good, an' ye must think o' that. I don't reckon, somehow, ye'll be a loser neither in the end."

"O I don't count, not I, on gentlefolks' gratitude," said Hor. "They've got her now, an' what 'll they care for else?"

"Ye're wrong, boy,—wrong altogether," said Job. "But wait an' see,—that 'll be worth more 'n all I could say to persuade ye."

"I'm sure 'twas a beautiful lot o' things they sent ye all yesterday evening," said Ailie. "An' wasn't Mrs. Forsyth good, gran'father, to be a-givin' us so much!"

"Maybe they thinks a good supper 'll pay back all the five years we've taken charge o' little Lettie," said Hor.

"Maybe they don't think nothin' o' the kind," said Job. "What's come over ye, lad, to be so cantank'rous,—'cept that ye've lost a little sister as you've had awhile, an' she's got a deal happier home than you'd ever ha' give her? Well, well, 'tis hard for ye, but ye'd best take it brave an' patient. Grumblin' don't do nobody any good,—eh?" as he smiled at Ailie.





"AIN'T that somebody at the door, gran'father?" exclaimed Ailie, jumping up.

"See if it be, deary."

And Ailie opened without delay. But there she turned shy, for before her stood a strange gentleman, and on one side of him was the very same little girl who had twice spoken to her in the street, and on the other side of him was Lettie herself, dressed in a warm blue frock, and fur-trimmed jacket, and pretty hat.

"Well, my little woman, is your name Ailie Carter?" asked the gentleman kindly. "Lettie, I think this is an old friend of yours."

Ailie looked very much afraid of Lettie, and Lettie looked hardly less afraid of Ailie, while the gentleman went on, "How is your grandfather?"

"Please, sir, he can't get up."

"Will he let me come in and see him, do you think?"

"Please, sir," repeated Ailie under her breath.

Leveson entered the room, and took a seat on the old rickety chair near the bed. Josie stood close beside him, and Lettie slipped away to Hor, while Job remarked—

"You be mighty welcome, sir."

"Mrs. Forsyth tells me you have not been well of late, Mr. Kippis."

Job shook his head. "Seems to me some'at of a breakin' up, sir. I'm an old man, as you may say,—can look right back to the wars, an' went through Battle o' Waterloo, an' I've had a harder life than some. Not as I've nought to complain of."

"And now there comes a little warning, a little failing, to remind you that the last call may not be far distant," said Leveson.

"Aye, sir. I'm noways loath to go."

"Those are solemn words for all of us, 'Prepare to meet thy God.' To meet Him eye to eye, and face to face. But I trust you know something of that which can lighten even the valley of death," said Leveson, reading the source of that "noways loath" in the calm upraised eyes. "If you have learnt the secret of the Lord's love and fear—"

"Sure an' that I have, sir," said Job, unable to wait. "Haven't I been His humble servant twenty years an' more?"

"But it is no service of your own which can bear you heavenwards. The Blood of the Lamb and that alone can save us from our sins. Our love and service are but the fruit and not the root of our salvation."

"I knows it, sir, but 'tis good to hear it again. Twenty years I've never missed church on Sunday, an' now I can't go to hear the Word, sure 'tis my Master Himself has sent you to cheer me up."

They went into an earnest conversation, Job speaking from time to time, but usually listening, with a smile of intense happiness. Leveson's little Bible came out next, and during the reading which followed, Josie mustered courage to steal away from her brother's side, and approach Ailie. They only stood looking at each other silently, until Leveson had ceased to read, and was speaking again; then Josie said—

"You're not starving now, I suppose?"

"No," said Ailie.

"Were you really starving that day?"

Ailie nodded.

"That was why you could not come next morning, wasn't it?"

"Lettie went 'stead of me," said Ailie.

"Yes, but you know you ought to call her Miss Lettie now, because she is my sister," said Josie. "I am Miss Therlock, and she is Miss Lettie Therlock."

Ailie looked very much impressed, not to say alarmed. They both stood silent, looking at Lettie who was seated on Hor's knee, holding him tightly. Josie felt that it was incumbent on her to keep up the conversation.

"Do you know we are all going into the country next month?"

"Be you?" said Ailie.

"Yes. We halve a house there, and now that Lettie is found, we need not stay in London any longer. Would you like the country, Ailie?"

"I dunno what country's like," said Ailie.

"Why, it's all green fields and trees, and as lovely as can be. Of course I don't mean just at this time of the year, but in spring and summer."

Another pause. "Lettie," said Leveson, turning, "suppose you come here and speak to Job Kippis."

Lettie came slowly, and stood by the bed, her small hand in Job's large one. "Aye, it's a happy little maid she be, to find a home like she has," said Job, smiling, "ain't it deary? An' ye'll love 'em all ever so."

"I likes him," said Lettie softly, with a trustful glance at Leveson.

"Aye, he be a kind elder brother, ain't he? As has sought an' found ye, an' taken ye away from the mire an' misery," said Job. "Beg your pardon, sir, 'tis a way I have o' lookin' at things as pictures like."

"I think it is the Bible way, Mr. Kippis."

"An' she be happy in her new home, eh?" said Job smilingly.

"They 's ever so kind," said Lettie, hanging her head and speaking low. "But I've got to be a lady, an' tis so hard, an' I don't know how."

"Hard to be a lady, ain't it?" said Job. "'Cause ye wasn't bred up to it, no more ye wasn't. An' yon parson, for all his love to ye, can't change your nature sudden-like. Ye'll fit in by and by. Don't I mean that when I says sometimes the Lord 'ud put me in a palace, if 'twas good for me, but I wouldn't be over happy in it. Sure I haven't got palace tastes, nor palace ways,—an' little Lettie's in a grand house, and she haven't got grand house tastes, nor ways neither, eh?"

"She will learn all that by and by," said Leveson, stroking her head. "But I think Lettie's difficulty makes another picture for you if you want one. Do you see it?"

"Sure an' I do, sir. Why, if a man was took right to heaven, without learnin' to have heaven's tastes, he wouldn't be a bit happier nor fitter nor better off than old Job Kippis in the Queen's palace. What'd he care for the singin' praises to God, and livin' for His service, and lookin' into His glory, an' doin' His will? It's dull work he'd find it all,—lest he had the love of God in his heart, sir, an' his sinful nature washed an' fitted for heaven. Ain't it that you meant?"

"Just that," said Leveson. "But very few men realize it, or know that to be taken to heaven, unfitted for heaven's work and glory, would be no boon. As well take a blind man to see beautiful scenery, or a deaf man to hear sweet music, as talk of a man who is deaf and blind to God's love and beauty, finding any happiness in heaven. But you—" Leveson went on after a moment's break,—"you, I trust, are no longer deaf and blind. Heaven will not be to you what our home, with all our efforts, must for a time be to little Lettie."

"Aye, sir, an' I don't think that the river Jordan's far distant neither," said Job. "No, I'm noways loath to go,—save for leavin' little Ailie tossin' about with no one to take pity on her. But I think ye'll be a friend to the poor little lamb, sir."





LETTIE settled down into her new home, slowly learning to love those around her, and gradually becoming accustomed to the strange restraints as to manner, behaviour, and speech, which at first were most irksome, after her past life of freedom in such matters. The little neglected mind was opening now to the enjoyment of beauty and happiness, where at first all had seemed a blank. Leveson Therlock knew by this time how much more ignorant and neglected they would have found her, but for the simple efforts of old Job Kippis during many months.

The next few weeks were busy ones, for Mrs. Therlock had all sorts of plans for helping the Forsyths, and Lettie's greatest delight was in seeing those plans carried out. Hor's long-standing wish to go to sea was at last to be fulfilled, and when the boy, in a fervour of excitement on hearing the good news, rushed off to Job Kippis, he listened patiently to the old man's grave rebuke.

"Will ye say now, boy, that God don't care for ye,—aye, though ye don't deserve He should? Kind to the unthankful and evil He be, but take care ye don't tempt Him too far, or maybe He'll see fit to withdraw His mercies from you."

The Forsyths were no longer to live on in their miserable home. Two or three airy rooms were found for them in an airy street, at a short distance, and were simply furnished by Mrs. Therlock, who undertook also to pay a portion of the rent. Through Leveson's efforts, regular work was procured for John Forsyth, and the next move was, by dint of much exertion and great correspondence, to place the half-witted boy, Roger, in an idiot asylum.

Things began, as Esther said, to "look up" with them once more. She was able again to take a pleasure in neatness and respectability, and her careworn look gave place to health and cheerfulness. The measure dealt out to little Lettie in her friendless days was amply repaid—"good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over."

There were plans also for Job Kippis and Ailie. Mrs. Therlock was going soon with her two little girls to live in her country house, and a tiny lodge close to the garden gate would just do for Job. Ailie should go to the village school, and learn to read and write and work, and when at home should take her share in opening the gate, and should be her grandfather's little housekeeper. For a while it seemed as if the plan might come to pass, and how eagerly the three children discussed it in all its bearings need scarcely be told.

Job did not seem to count upon it much himself, however. He had rallied slightly from his weakness, but never enough to be moved from the old garret. He liked to hear the little ones talking of their country home, and would listen to their anticipations, but he did not join in them for himself.

"No, deary, I thinks not," he would say, when Ailie wanted him to look forward as they were doing. "We'll wait an' see, but somehow I've a thought that 'tain't that sort o' country I'll be going to."

And gradually the truth broke upon them all, that it was even so. Job Kippis, the brave old soldier, who had battled so cheerily through his long troubled life, was going to another and farther Land.

They did not think the change so near as it was. But one rough February evening, a message came to Leveson Therlock, home on a brief visit,—a message sent by Ailie.

"Grandfather was worse."

Nothing but those three words, implying the need of Leveson's presence,—and he went.

Job lay there quietly, in his narrow garret, with brown hands clasped across his chest, as often of late, and a look of wondrous rest upon his furrowed brow, while Ailie crouched, trembling, beside the bed. He glanced up cheerily as Leveson came in.

"It's a stormy night," he said. "I scarce thought I'd see you, sir, but Ailie she said you was at home, an' she knowed you'd wish we should send."

"Ailie was right," said Leveson. "It must have been a storm indeed that could have kept me back if you needed me. How are you to-night?"

He looked downwards, smiling still, with a little motion of his hand towards the floor. "Waters of Jordan washin' all round me, sir, but I ain't out o' my depth yet."

"And you will not be," said Leveson, "so long as you lean on your Guide. Don't look at the water like Peter, but look to His Face."

"I'll see it soon,—as plain as I see yours," said Job.

"Would you like me to pray with you?"

"Sure an' I would, sir, if 'tain't troublin' you,—not as that's likely," he added. "I'm not feared. But if 'tis all the same to you, sir, I'd rather have the prayers I knows, an' not the Visitation of the Sick, nor no new one. My head's a bit weak, an' I'll follow the old words easiest."

So the old-grand sweet words, offered up by tens of thousands before him through hundreds of years past, now sounded reverently in Leveson's deep voice. They seemed to fill the little garret with an atmosphere of peace, and to bring a ray of measureless trust upon Job's face, as he lay again with his clasped hands.

"Aye, that be it," he said at the close in an undertone. "Strayed an' wanderin',—leavin' undone things I ought to ha' done, an' doin' things I ought to ha' left undone,—a poor miserable offender first to last. But He 've forgiven me,—blessed be His Name."

Then Job was quiet awhile,—as if asleep. Presently looking up, he said, "He 've been a good Master,—a good Master,—lovin' right to the end."

"And how in the day of trouble, and failure, and almost starvation?" asked Leveson. "Had He forsaken you then? Did your faith stand out then?"

"Sure an' if it didn't, 'twas I that failed, an' not He. Trust Him!—Aye, don't I? Little Ailie—"

She came closer, sobbing, and he put his hand over hers.

"Don't ye ever forget that. Trust Him whatever He do to ye—whatever. Don't ye ever question an' doubt. His dealings with ye are all love, an' faithfulness, an' tenderness, from beginning to end. Maybe He'll let ye wander alone, and be half-starved again as He's done afore. It's all love, I tell ye. Just cling to Him, an' He'll be with ye through all. He'll never leave ye. He's never left me,—an' never will."

Once more there came an interval of silence, as Job lay with that same smile upon his face, and no fear at his heart, no words of doubt upon his lips. He knew his Master. Through long years he had proved His love. And now that the last trial of life had come, he was troubled by no dread.

"Aye, I'll die here," he said, speaking when they thought him past speech. "Up in the old garret. Didn't think somehow all along that I'd be let go to the country. I'd learn to love this world then maybe, an' that 'ud be a pity, wouldn't it? I don't love it now, nor want nothin' more."

Nothing more on earth. He had nothing more,—except peace at the last. Slowly, as night crept by, he grew weaker. Jordan's waters were around him, playing over him, dashing about him, rising higher and higher as he went deeper into the flood. But he never sank, never wavered, never struggled. Passing calmly through their midst, with his Master by his side, he forded all the waves, and never lost his footing. And as the first gray tint of dawn was shining in the east, over the house-tops across the way, Job reached the Other Side.

He was only a poor old tailor, living up in a garret, in London's dreariest quarter! But from the midst of squalor and misery, rags and dirt, sounds of contention and anger, voices of sorrow and pain,—he passed to glory and joy unending, to be a king and a priest for ever before the throne of God.




AND as the light of dawn came into the garret, which for so many months had formed Job's home,—came resting in dull shades of gray upon the wall, and upon the face that lay so calm in death, and upon the outlines of the old warrior's face, still to be seen over the fireplace,—as the light increased, Leveson rose to leave. He would take little Ailie, twice-orphaned child, home with him. Where else could she go?

But the door creaked slowly open, and a woman stood there,—a haggard faded woman, walking with difficulty, dressed in rags, footsore and poverty-stricken.

"They telled me I'd find her here," she said. "They telled me I'd find Ailie."

And a cry broke from Ailie's lips, ringing through the stillness of the death-chamber, but never disturbing the repose of old Job Kippis, lying in his last long sleep,—a cry of "Mother! Mother!"

"Ailie! Why sure it can't be Ailie," said Mary Carter, almost putting the child from her at first, as she scanned her face with trembling eagerness. "Ailie,—why, so it is, but I scarce knowed ye, child,—ye've that grown an' altered."

"O mother, if you had but come home a little earlier—just a little," sobbed Ailie. "He's dead now—gran'father's dead—an' ye'll never be able to thank him."

"Gran'father!" repeated Mary Carter.

"He made me call him so, an' he was more to me nor any real gran'father. Mother, why did ye never come sooner?"

"I couldn't help it. 'Twas no choice o' mine. Who's took care o' ye all these months?"

"Gran'father—old Job Kippis he was," said Ailie sorrowfully, pointing towards the bed. "He's lyin' there. He ain't dead long. Oh, I wish ye'd come sooner, an' could ha' spoken to him."

"Maybe ye haven't a bit of somethin' to give me. I'm famished."

She looked ready to drop, and Leveson, coming forwards, told her to sit down on the chair, and desired Ailie to bring food from the cupboard. She ate eagerly, holding Ailie all the while, as if fearing to lose her again, and Leveson said, "It must be almost more than you expected, to find your little girl safe in the old house."

"Indeed, sir, an' I've wondered what could ha' become of her, not a soul to look after her, an' her poor father a-dying the night I went." She heaved a sigh at the recollection.

"Have you been in any trouble since leaving jail?" asked Leveson gravely.

She did not answer the question, but flushed with burning shame at the last word, and hung her head heavily. "What Jem would ha' said—I doubt but it helped to kill him. An' my poor mother as brought me up so respectable; but I didn't know what I was a-doin' that day, I didn't."

"It was the first time you ever gave way to such temptation, was it not?"

She gave a mute sign of assent.

"And I trust it may be the last. Poor woman, you have suffered for your sin," he said compassionately. "But there is One—One of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, and One whose law you have broken—who well knows the strength of your temptation. He offers you free pardon for the past, if you will seek it at His feet."

"I dunno much about such things," said Mary Carter despondingly. "An' what I'm to do now, no home, an' no work, an' the child dependin' on me!"

"Mother, we'll be took care of," said Ailie. "Why didn't you come back straight when you was set free?"

"I couldn't, child. I've been in hospital since. I was run over that day, an' 'twas weeks afore I knowed where I was, an' longer afore I could speak sense."

"Run over!" repeated Leveson and Ailie together.

"Aye, 'twas that same day," repeated Mary Carter. "I've but a half remembrance of it all. I was walkin' along, an' looking forward to hear where Ailie was, an' thinkin' to find she'd been sent off to the work'us. I s'pose I wasn't heedin' much where I was goin', an' in crossin' a road, I heard a shriekin', and I see a great 'bus comin' down right upon me, an' somehow my foot slipped. After that I knowed nothin'—for weeks they telled me. I'd a broken leg, an' a blow on the head, as took away all my senses. It's left me that weak now, that I don't scarce know how to walk nor stand, but they says I'm as well as I'm like to be for many a year. I'll never be the same woman again, an' I can't take a needle for half an hour, but I turns giddy. But I'll have to work, for we ain't got nothin' to live on."

"We will not leave you to starve," said Leveson. "I think we shall find some means of helping you. Now, what will you do first? I would rather see you in another room before I go. Is there any vacant in the house, Ailie?"

"Please, sir, next door garret. Mr. Sloane went away yesterday," said Ailie, "an' nobody hasn't took it yet."

"Then I think that had better be your home for a few days, until we can arrange something more definite."

He placed five shillings in Mary Carter's hand as he spoke, and she faltered tearful thanks. There were a few words more about arrangements. Then he walked to the bedside, and stood looking down—not sadly. It was not a sight to look upon sadly—that face of happy rest.

"Fought a good fight, kept the faith, finished the course," he murmured. "Poor old Kippis! Oh, what a change to step from such a spot as this into the infinite glory! Ailie,—" and he laid his hand on the little girl's head,—"never forget all that he taught you. Never forget to pray that your last end may be like his."

And Leveson went home. But all the way he had ringing in his head the words of a hymn, which seemed strangely applicable to old Job:—

"Safe home, safe home in port!
    Rent cordage, shattered deck,
 Torn sails, provisions short,
    And only not a wreck.
 But oh! the joy upon the shore,
 To tell our voyage perils o'er.
"The prize, the prize secure,
    The athlete nearly fell,
 Bare all he could endure,
    And bare not always well;
 But he may smile at troubles gone
 Who sets the victor garland on."




IT was a lovely day, out in the fair country, far away from the smoke and dust, the noise and turmoil, which had surrounded Ailie from earliest babyhood. Through the drive from the station, Ailie sat beside her mother in the farmer's cart which had been sent to meet them, wondering till words failed her at all she saw.

The green early grass stretching into the far distance, the purple horizon tints, the budding richness of hedges near at hand, the glee of birds overhead, the lowing of cows in the meadows, the gay frisking of tiny lambs beside their staid old mothers, the harsh cawing of rooks in old elm trees—what a marvellous world it was!

Ailie's pent-up delight broke forth in one eager cry: "O mother! Just think o' livin' here!"

"Seems a dream to me, to be seeing a green field again, it do," said Mary Carter.

"O mother, don't it look as if there was room here?" said Ailie. "An' not every one a-crowdin' an' pushin' everybody! Why, it looks most as if the world was gettin' empty."

"Ah, you be come from London parts," said the stout driver in his smock frock, who had been whistling a nameless tune, and letting his plump horse jog along quietly at any pace it chose. "Lots o' folks in London, ain't there, an' not much o' green fields?"

"I never see a green field in all my life afore," said Ailie, upon which the worthy man ejaculated—

"Think o' that now! Never see a green field!" and gazed at Ailie with compassion.

"O mother,—see, there be a brown field too!" cried Ailie. "What's it for?"

"That be sown with wheat," said the man. "Ye'll see it all a-comin' up by an' by. An' there, over among the trees, is the house I'm a-takin' ye to—Mrs. Therlock's."

"An' she lives there?" said Ailie.

"That she do,—an' her father an' grandfather afore her. A mighty kind lady she be, and we're main glad to have her among us again, with little Miss Vi and all."

Passing by a plantation of saplings growing close to the road, a small gate in the fence opened, and two little girls rushed out. "I knew it was them," cried Josie. "I knew it, directly I heard the cart. O stop, please—don't drive on. Let them both get down here. What do you think of the country, Ailie?"

The man pulled up slowly, threw the reins on the old horse's neck, stepped down himself first, lifted Ailie to the ground, and helped her mother to follow. Ailie gazed wonderingly round, and back at Josie.

"Well?" repeated Josie. "You look as puzzled as Vi did, when first we came. But you like it now, don't you, Vi?"

"It's just beautiful," said little Vi emphatically. "Ever so much better than the old court, ain't it, Ailie?"

Ailie nodded. Words would not come yet. "Mother will see you soon," said Josie, assuming the patronizing "Miss Therlock" air, which she sometimes put on. "And now I am going to show you your new home. Come along, Vi,—we'll lead the way."

Holding Vi's hand, as if she counted her little sister her especial charge, Josie danced along the grass borders, looking back impatiently at Mary Carter's slower footsteps.

"It's not far," she said, "only along the road,—straight on this way. After all, you might as well have kept in the cart, but it doesn't matter. We're close now. Only this one corner. There!"

They had reached the large iron gates which formed the principal entrance to the grounds. Beside them stood a fancy cottage, small and neat, overgrown by honeysuckle and clematis. One lattice window below and one above looked towards the road, and a tiny garden, stocked with early vegetables, lay on one side. Ailie's eyes went speechlessly to her mother and to Josie.

"Yes, that's it," said Josie. "That is to be your own home now. And all you've got to do is to open and shut the gate, Mrs. Carter, when a carriage passes through. But mother will tell you all that by and by. Come now,—come in and see how you like the rooms."

Following the eager child, Ailie and her mother found themselves in a neat kitchen, furnished with a strong deal table, two wooden chairs, and a small dresser which bore an ample supply of blue china and other requisites. Nothing would satisfy Josie but that they must at once climb the ladder staircase, into the upper room, and there admire the tidy bed, the chintz curtains, the painted wooden chest of drawers, and the washhand-stand, with its jug and basin. She chattered fast enough herself to make up for their bewildered silence, and as soon as she had done displaying the bedroom, she brought them down again.

"I think I have shown you all now, Mrs. Carter."

Poor Mary could do nothing but curtsey in her wordless gratitude.

"And mother has put some tea in this little box, and there's the teapot up there, and Vi and I brought some milk and bread and butter ourselves this afternoon, didn't we, Vi? So you can have your tea as soon as you like. Shall I tell mother you are pleased?"

Assurances on this point were so unnecessary, while in full view of those two faces, that Josie did not wait for them, and went springing away along the gravel pathway, the long ribbon ends of her hat floating out in the breeze. Lettie lingered behind, looking sedately at Ailie.

"It's just like a dream, so it be," said Mary Carter, slowly. "Such a place as this! Why, I don't know if I'm in my senses to think it's for us."

"It's just beautiful!" said Ailie, with one long breath.

"An' I haven't said a word o' thanks," said Mary. "I couldn't. Seemed as if none 'ud come. But Miss Vi 'll tell the lady,—won't ye, Miss? I can't say all I ought."

"I'll tell mamma you're glad," said Lettie, adding thoughtfully,—"Ailie, don't you wish ever so much that old gran'father was here?"

"He'd ha' liked the green grass, an' the trees' an' the flowers," said Ailie.

"Mamma says heaven's ever so much beautifuller than the country," said Lettie. "I don't know how, but she says it is."

"Gran'father didn't seem to want to come, 'cause he was afraid he'd learn to love it more than heaven," said Ailie. "I hope we won't,—but I do think it'll be hard not to," she added, looking through the window at the sunshine without. "It do seem pretty."

"Maybe if we try, we won't neither," said Lettie. "Josie will want me, and I'll go now."

Smiling a farewell, she too went off along the gravel path, in somewhat more sober fashion than Josie.

Ailie stood gazing after the little departing figure, thinking to herself how she would need to know and love and trust God much, even as old Job Kippis had known and loved and trusted, if she would keep the thought of Heaven first in her heart, before the thought of this her new sweet cottage-home.