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seamstress, to gain a penny's advantage. What matters it that justice is on the side of the weak, so long as might supports the oppressor? and, therefore, they must either starve, or bend to the yoke."
"That may be the case with some persons, but not with me," replied Mrs. Harris. "No one is further from wishing to grind the poor than I am. I pay to those whom I employ all they ask, and no more; And that, Mrs. Mayhew, I consider to be right. 'Charity begins at home,' and I contend it is every wife's duty to use'judgment and economy in the management of her household."
"Very true; but not at the expense of justice and humanity," said Mrs. Mayhew. "' Live and let live,' is an old adage, and one which I wish was imprinted in letters of gold upon every hearthstone. I simply plead for justice, not for charity; and, believe me, if the former were more frequently meted out, there would be less call for the latter! But, allow me to ask what has become of Miss Chilson? she appeared to be a very nice girl."
"Yes, I believe she was, and very faithful," answered Mrs. Harris. "But, somehow, I never exactly liked her—in fact, it is very nnnoying to see persons in her situation put on so many airs as she did—it is very disagreeable."
"Every person should possess a proper selfrespect," said Mrs. Mayhew.
"0 yes, certainly; but, sometimes, Chilson had a way with her that was really quite provoking. Now, for instance, one day we had company to dinner, and, only an hour before the time, our waiter took a miff at something, and left the house; of course, it was then too late to procure another, and so I just simply proposed to Chilson to take her place, as it would accommodate me so much."
"Which, I presume, she would not do," said Mrs. Mayhew, smiling.
"Mercy, no indeed! why she looked as indignant as any princess; I always thought it very ungrateful of her. Then, another time, when I was out of a chambermaid, I requested her as a favour to do the work just for one day, and, I declare, if I had not actually demeaned myself to apologize, I believe she would have left the house, and my children's dresses half finished. To be sure, she was quite kind when little John and Anne had the measles, and insisted upon sitting up with them two or three nights."
"And yet you dismissed her, Mrs. Harris, for no other reason than that you found a person who would work for you more reasonably?" said Mrs. Mayhew.
"For that only; but I consider it a duty to save every penny I can, for you know we have
a large family, and our expenses are heavy; and, if I can hire my sewing for less than I have been paying for it, why I ought certainly to take advantage of the opportunity. But, I confess, I was sorry to tell Chilson she need not come any more."
"Did she seem disappointed?" inquired Mrs. Mayhew.
"You never saw any one so agitated as she was at first," replied Mrs. Harris. "And when I paid her what little money I was owing her, and told her I had no further use for her services, the tears stood in her eyes."
"Poor girl! I fear, my dear friend, you have unintentionally done a cruel deed!" said Mrs. Mayhew. "It is a very difficult thing for a poor young girl to obtain a new situation. Men can rough and battle with the world, but with the friendless female it is different. Miss Chilson may have many dear ones—a father-— a mother, dependent upon her exertions; even the little mite she earned fr^m you, may have been of vital importance to them, and of which, my dear Mrs. Harris, you have thus thoughtlessly deprived them."
Mrs. Harris was now really angry, and answered accordingly.
"Indeed, Mrs. Mayhew, I did not know that » I was accountable to you for my actions; when I am, it will be time enough for you to assume the office of Mentor!"
"I am sorry to have offended you," said Mrs. Mayhew, rising calmly from her seat; "when we meet again I trust all will be forgotten. One thing more; can you tell me where Miss Chilson lives?"
"No; for I never asked her," ungraciously replied Mrs. Harris; "but I believe somewhere in Third Street. I am sorry I qannot relieve your benevolent curiosity!" she adffcd, ironically.
Mrs. Mayhew bowed, and left the house; while Mrs. Harris, in no very comfortable frame of mind, ascended to the nursery.
"How very disagreeable that woman is getting!" she muttered to herself; "I really believe I will cut her acquaintance—she is too much of the Fry school to suit me!"
In one corner of the nursery, a pale, sicklylooking girl sat, bending over her needle, surrounded by three or four noisy, quarrelsome children.
"Heavens, what an uproar!" exclaimed Mrs. Harris as she entered; "be still, all of you— you are enough to craze one! Have yoji finished the trimming to my cape!" she asked, . turning to the sewing girl.
"Not quite, ma'am," she replied, without raising her eyes from her work.
"Not quite! why it is more than an hour
since you began it; you must sew very slowly, I am sure," said Mrs. Harris, snappishly.
The girl made no answer; but a tear rolled slowly down her pale cheek, and dropped upon the delicate silk in her hand. Mrs. Harris immediately obserred the stain on the beautiful fabric, though not the cause.
"Why, what is this, Gales? See, you have spotted my cape, you careless creature; what is it? Is it grease, or what?" Bhe exclaimed, angrily.
The colour rose to the cheek of the poor girl as she answered.
'* No, ma'am, it is not grease, it is no stain; it is only—only water."
"Only water 1 Well, I must say, I think it , is rery careless in you not to put by your work when you drink! Have not you almost finished? for I have an engagement at one o'clock, and have get my heart upon wearing my new sUk."
"It will very soon be completed, ma'am," was the reply.
"Ma, she don't sew half so fast as Chilson did," whispered little Fanny; "and has been doing nothing half the time, but just sitting with her handkerchief to her eyes; I don't like her a bit!"
Mrs. Harris turned sharply round:
"I see you are very slow with your needle; my other girl, Chilson, would have done the work in half the time. I don't like eye-serTants."
The poor girl sighed heavily.
"I am very sorry that I have not been able to do more this morning. I had a headache when I left home, and it has increased to such a degree, that I fear I must ask permission to return."
Mrs. Harris was somewhat touched by her sad tone and pallid looks.
"Well, I am sorry you are sick, Gales—perhaps you had better go up stairs into the chambermaid's room and lie down a little while—you do look pale. Remember, I never require any one to work for me unless they are able—and, by the way, are you subject to headaches, Gales?"
"I have suffered very much, ma'am, but somehow I believe I am getting used to them," answered the girl with a faint, siekly smile.
"Because," continued Mrs. Harris, "if you are not healthy, why of course I cannot consider my engagement with you binding; I have a great deal of sewing, and cannot afford to hire any one who is constantly putting it by on account of sickness."
Another tear stole down the cheek of the poor seamstress as she meekly folded her work.
"I should be very sorry to lose your patronage, Mrs. Harris," she answered, "and I hope
you will try me a little longer—I will use every exertion to please you. If—if—I could have a room to myself I think I could do better."
"A room to yourself—nonsense—ChilBon never thought of such a thing! Pray what objection have you to this?" exclaimed Mrs. Harris. •
"I do not wish to complain, but sometimes the noise of the children makes my head whirl and ache very badly."
"That I can't help; if you sew for me, you must get used to the noise—that's all—Chilson did. I cannot have any other room but this littered up with work, and I choose the children to be kept here."
"Very well," said the girl with the same sad smile, "I dare say I shall get used to it. If you please, I think I^will go home now—I am very sorry to havo disappointed you today."
Mrs. Harris deigned no answer, and putting on her bonnet and shawl, the poor, young seamstress wearily threaded the gay, noisy streets to her own wretched abode.
Six months prior to the scenes just related, a small house, located in a quarter of the city densely packed with a hard-working, industrious class of citizens, had been rented by a family of the name of Chilson. The groundfloor of the dwelling was disposed of to a bookbinder, only reserving for themselves two small rooms above, and a kitchen in the rear. They were strangers in the neighbourhood; but from the fact that the father of the family was utterly helpless, from a paralysis which had destroyed both mind and body, they excited a lively interest and commiseration.
Mrs. Chilson was evidently an invalid, although she was never heard to complain: if she suffered, it was silently, and with quiet cheerfulness and resignation performed her heavy duties. Amy was the eldest, and had just entered her eighteenth year. Caroline was fourteen, and the little Nina a child often summers. Their united labours served to maintain them comfortably from day to day, and to meet the rent, &c, but it was done by constant, unremitting toil, and by using every penny with the most scrupulous economy, so that it was evident, should any untoward circumstance prevent the mutual aid by which their little fund accumulated, it would be severely felt by all.
Their path in life had not always been the humble one through which they now struggled, battling with disease and poverty; for at no very late period, though long enough to have escaped the memory of sunny friends, they had lived in affluence. But reverses came to them as to thousands of others, happily not always with such disastrous effects; for the sudden loss of his fortune so completely mastered the energies of Mr. Chilson, as brought him in the course of a few months to his present deplorable state—helpless—hopeless—a burthen to himself and ftmily; but far were they from owning the burthen. It was a lovely sight, the devotion of mother and children to that poor, helpless, old man.
Upon Amy the hopes of this little family were placed. She was their support,and comfort. Although, as I have said, born in affluence, Amy Chilson now followed the humble occupation of a seamstress. She considered herself fortunate to have obtained the patronage of three ladies of fashion, by whom she was kept constantly employed, and there is no need of saying that, on her part, Amy was faithful and unwearied in her efforts to please. Day after day, beneath the rays of a scorching sun or through drenching-rains, did the young girl hie cheerfully to her toil— subjected through the day perhaps to'supercilious looks, the sneer, the cutting reproach, the whims and caprices of her lady patronesses. But it was to earn bread for the loved ones at home, and so poor Amy submitted to all with a cheerful, happy spirit, reaping the harvest of contentment even for her own lowly lot, when placed in comparison with the hollow, frivolous scenes to which Bhe was a daily witness. Mrs. Chilson folded books for the honest bookbinder occupying the lower story. It was but little she could cam, it is true, but every little is much to the poor. Caroline embroidered in worsteds, knit comforters, mittens, and children's jackets, while it was little Nina's province to help all, to amuse father, tidy up the room for mother, and assort the gay worsteds for her sister. Busy as a bee then was Nina from morning till night, and her voice, like the song of a young bird, brought gladness to the dwelling.
It was late in the afternoon of a cold, boisterous day in midwinter, one of those days when one appreciates a rest within doors, and a nook in the "ingle side." A cheerful fire was blazing from the grate, while drawn up closely in one corner of fhe fireplace, a large, old, easy chair supported the helpless frame of Mr. Chilson. At his feet sat little Nina assorting her crewels, and spreading them as she did so over the knees of the old man, who, pleased as an infant at their rainbow shades, toyed and laughed as she playfully waved each skein before his eyes, ere placing it with the others. Seated near the only window in the room, that not a ray of precious daylight might be lost, sat Mrs. Chilson and Caroline, each busily
engaged with their work. No carpet covered the floor—but it was admirably clean, and every little article of furniture—the few chairs, the table, the little bookshglf—were as neat as they could be. In one corner of the room a coarse muslin curtain concealed the bedstead, which turned up to the wall, after a fashion now superseded by the more graceful sofa-bed and other ingenious devices
"Poor Amy will have a cold walk this bitter evening," said Mrs. Chilson, looking forth as she spoke upon the dreary scene. "See, Caroline, how every one hurries along, as if eager to reach their fireside;—God help those who have none to go to!" And with pious gratitude Mrs. Chilson mentally thanked her Maker for the comforts yet left them.
"I hope I shall soon be able to take Amy's place, mother," said Caroline; "it is hard she should always be the one to encounter such dreadful weather; next year, don't you think next year, mother, I can work for Mrs. Harris as well as Amy?"
"You are a good«child!" said Mrs. Chilson, putting back the long golden ringlets, and kissing the fair young brow before her.
"Hark, how the wind blows!" exclaimed little Nina, listening to the gust which now swept around the dwelling. "How I wish we lived in Arch Street now; then dear sister could stay at home. Ah, I can just remember, mother, how, whenever it stormed, you always sent the carriage to bring Amy and Caroline from school."
"Car-riage," mumbled the poor invalid; "car-riage—oh yes, order the car-riage, and tell John to drive care-fully—care-fully—it is warm—very warm for the poor horses."
"Poor dear father!" sighed Caroline, "he little knows how hard his darling Amy toils for us; ah, she is coming,—yes, there she is just turning the corner: why how slow she walks!"
"The wind is very strong, and directly in her face, poor girl I" said Mrs. Chilson.
Nina in the meanwhile sprang from her seat, and ran fleetly down the stairs, to open the hall door for her sister.
Slowly, slowly Amy toiled up the narrow staircase, for grief made her footsteps heavy, and with a pale, sad countenance she entered the little chamber.
"Now God help us, dear mother!" she cried, falling on her mother's neck, and bursting into tears.
"Amy, my child, my darling, what is the matter?" exclaimed Mrs. Chilson.
"Sweet sister, dear Amy, what is it,—what has happened?" cried Caroline, hanging fondly over her, while little Nina, falling on her knees, threw her arms around both mother and sister, sobbing as if her dear little heart would break.
"Amy, tell me, I beseech you, what it is distresses you; has any one dared to insult my poor child V cried Mrs. Chilson.
"Oh no, thank God not that, dear mother!" answered Amy, unloosing her arms from her mother's neck, and looking sadly in her face: "but I know not what is to become of us, nor where I shall find work for to-morrow, for, alas, dear mother, Mrs. Harris has told me I need not come to her again."
"It is so, mother; and on calling at Mrs. Frisbie's and Mrs. Dunn's, I find through Mrs. Harris's recommendation they also have engaged another person to work for them."
"My poor children," said Mrs. Chilson, regarding the weeping group; "and what reason have they for dismissing you, Amy?"
"They give none, nnd I know of none, unless they may have found some one whom they can employ cheaper; but I should not mind it so much if I knew of any other situation where I might at once obtain employment, for I fear, dear mother, ere I am able to secure another situation, you will suffer for my little earnings."
"' God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb,' my love," answered Mrs. Chilson, kissing her. "Let us not forget that others must live as well as ourselves, and perhaps some one even more needy has obtained Mrs. Harris's patronage; let this thought reconcile us to a misfortune so unlooked for; we *will place our trust in God, and look forward with hope to the future."
"Dear mother, you are always so cheerful and so resigned," said Amy, "that it is a reproach for your children to give way one moment to despondency in your presence. Come, dear Caroline, dry your eyes, and you too, darling Nina, let us follow our mother's noble example,—yes, we will look to the future with hope. And now, girls, let us get the supper ready, and then we will calmly consider what is be9t to be done in this emergency."
"Yes, sup-per, have sup-per," slowly articulated the old man; "we'll have oys-ters, Mrs. Chilson, and cham-pagne: John, bring in glass-es, wee'll have a glo-ri-ous supper I"
Amy bent over her poor old father, and kissed his cheek, tenderly smoothing his long silver hair.
"Thank God I" she whispered to Caroline, "our poor dear father does not realize our troubles."
When their frugal meal was prepared, Amy, kneeling on a low footstool by the side of her decrepit parent, fed him as tenderly as she would have done a babe, and then in a low, sweet voice sang a pleasing lullaby, which soon closed the eyes of the weary old man in sleep.
The evening was passed in forming hopes and plans for the future, which the morning was doomed to dissipate.
For weeks poor Amy vainly sought employment,—occasionally the sympathizing neighbours favoured her with some trifling work, but thi9 was at best precarious. Mrs. Chilson, too, became suddenly ill—the father was daily growing more querulous and exacting—their little money was gone—and with rigid economy their small stock of fuel and groceries was rapidly diminishing. What wonder that poor Amy almost despaired—for she saw only poverty and wretchedness impending over those she loved.
Such was one result of Mrs. Harris's policy.
After an absence of six years, Leonard Darlington returned from India. During this long separation from country and friends, he had accumulated a handsome fortune, and had now come home, as he Expressly declared, to look out for a wife, and settle down into the sober state of matrimony.
lie wa3 not yet six-and-twenty, fine-looking, graceful in his manners, and agreeable in conversation. But what was far better, he added to these outward gifts a noble, generous heart, and fine talents, highly improved by education and travel.
The morning after his return, Leonard strolled into hie sister's apartment, and throw
ing himself carelessly upon the lounge, proceeded to make inquiries about those of their friends with whom he was most intimate ere he went abroad.
"The Nixons, Ida, what has become of them V
"Oh, they are immensely rich, and are living in splendid style. Cornelia—you remember Cornelia ?—she is % sweet girl, I assure you, and quite a belle."
"Time does work wonders then I" answered her brother, laughing, "for I only recollect her as a little, freckled, awkward school-girl, with great gray eyes. Well, the Cassidys and the Derwents?"
"Very dashing, fashionable people, I assure you, Leonard," replied Ida. "To be sure, Mr. Cassidy failed a year or two since, and everybody thought they would go down, but it made no difference at all in their style;—they did, I believe, give up their carriage for a month or two, but they now sport one of the most elegant equipages in Chestnut Street."
"The Chilsons, Ida,—are they still living in Arch Street?" inquired Leonard.
"Oh no; their glory has departed, Leonard; indeed I know nothing about them. Mr. Chilson failed ever so many years ago,—just after you went away, I believe,—and they lived so shabbily, that of course ma could not think of visiting; afterwards I heard Mr. Chilson had a fit or something of the kind, and then they moved off I don't know where."
"You surprise me," said her brother, "when you and Amy were such Intimate friends— surely the loss of property could not have affected your friendship!"
"Why you know, Leonard, people of our style cannot visit everybody ;—Amy was a dear girl, and I am sure I almost cried my eyes out at first, because mamma would not let me visit her any longer; but I suppose it is all right; we must do as the rest of the world do."
"No, it is not right, Ida," answered her brother; "and who or what constitutes the world you speak of? A few people who live in fine houses, and ride in fine coaches! Fie, Ida; if upon such you pin your faith, if of such is your world, then break from its trammels at once and for ever, dear sister; such servility is unworthy of you."
"Nonsense; how you talk, Leonard I" exclaimed Ida. "What queer notions you have picked up—as odd as the people you have been among. Recollect, Mr. Leonard Darlington, we are ranked among the (lite of the city, and to extend our acquaintance to bankrupts and beggars, would be folly."
"Ida, my dear sister, if you are, as you say, among the elite, which, I suppose, means the most fashionable, then set a noble example,