and welcome the good and virtuous to your circle alike, "whether they come in ermined robe, or in the homely guise of poverty."

"Ridiculous, Leonard I" said Ida, turning pettishly away from him.

"And listen, Ida," continued her brother; "suppose you in turn should become poor, do you think your world would longer recognise

Ida Darlington, the belle of W Square?

No, Ida, you would be forgotten in a week, and your dearest friends would pass you unrecognised, or with a condescending bow, more cutting than their neglect V

"You talk so strangely," answered Ida; "as if tee could ever become poor! and if we did, I am sure the loss of wealth could never alter ( our position in society!"

Leonard smiled: "Well, dear sister, I trust you may never be made to acknowledge the fallacy of your present belief! Poor Amy Chilson! Then you can tell me nothing of h«r?"

"Nothing, Leonard; why you look as forlorn as Don Quixote. Ah, I had forgotten your boyish penchant; now I remember, you used to call her your little wife. And so six years of absence has not obliterated the impression the soft blue eyes of Amy made upon your heart! Heigho, poor Leonard! But come with me, I will introduce you to Cornelia Nixon; in her brilliant smiles you will soon forget your old flame; come, Leonard."

"Ida, I will not rest until I find out what hag become of Amy Chilson," replied her brother; "and if I find her all I expect, and her heart free, it will go hard but my youthful dream shall be realized. However, I have no objections to renewing my acquaintance with Miss Nixon. Ah, sister," he continued, kissing Ida's rosy cheek, "the world has almost spoiled you; this little heart must beat more healthfully ere we part again."

The reader will recollect Mrs. Mayhew, and the interest she expressed for Miss Chilson. She had been in the habit of seeing her occasionally at Mrs. Harris's, when invited by that lady to the nursery, either to pass maternal criticism upon the swollen gums of "baby," or to examine the "love of a silk or cashmere," just sent home from Levy's. At these times she had been much struck by the modest and ladylike deportment of the young seamstress, and, upon learning her sudden dismissal from Mrs. Harris's, felt deeply interested for her. She resolved to find her, that if, as she feared, the selfishness of Mrs. Harris had been a cause of misfortune to the young girl, she might herself repair the evil.

Upon calling at Mrs. Frisbie's and Dunn's

to ascertain the address of Amy, they professed the same ignorance as Mrs. Harris. So long as the needle plied faithfully, what interest had they in the machine by which it was wielded! Mrs. Mayhew, however, continued every possible measure she could devise to discover Amy's abode, but her efforts proved vain; when it happened one morning that her youngest child was seized with a sudden illness, which in a few moments brought the family physician to the bedside.

After administering proper remedies to the child, the Doctor sat down, and, turning to Mrs. Mayhew, said:

"I have met with a very singular adventure, and found an old friend under the most painful circumstances. Last evening I was called in great haste to attend a person whom the messenger reported to be, as he feared, in the agonies of death. I lost no time; my gig was fortunately at the door, and, bidding the man get in with me, I drove as fast as possible to the house of the sick person, and hastened up the gloomy stairway, and into the room my conductor pointed out. Upon a low bed lay a woman, apparently nearly exhausted by a violent hemorrhage of the lungs. The blood was still oozing from her mouth and nostrils, and a cold, clammy sweat already bedewed her deathpale countenance. At the head of the bed sat a beautifujalittle girl, propping the pillow which supported her mother; while, kneeling on the floor, a young girl, with a face almost as deathly as the one over which she wag bending, gently wiped the blood as it gushed forth, and tenderly chafed the brow and temples of the suffering woman. Never shall I forget her look of agony as she read the doubt which sat upon my countenance. I bade her take courage, that I yet hoped to save her mother. I soon stopped the bleeding, and applied proper restoratives to the almost inanimate form. Her pulse gradually strengthened, her breathing became more regular, and in a short time I had the satisfaction of seeing her open her eyes. There was somothing in her countenance which struck me from the first as being familiar. I could not help thinking I had seen it before; but when or where I could not remember. It appeared to me, also, that as the poor sick lady languidly opened her eyes, there was a ray of recognition as they met mine. The young girl beckoned me into an adjoining room, where another harrowing sight awaited me. An old man lay stretched upon the bed, as cold and senseless as the clods which must soon cover him. His eyes were open, but the film of death already hid the world from their sight. Painful was the heavy, laboured breathing which alone told he yet lived. Another fair girl, whom I had not seen before, sat by the bedside, and held one hand of the dying man clasped in hers.

"' Tell me, tell me, Doctor, will she lirewill our dear mother lire?' whispered the lovely girl whom I had first seen, catching my arm, and looking up, breathlessly, into my face.

"' I cannot answer for the event, my dear young lady,' I replied; 'yet, I assure you, from her present symptoms, I think I may Bafely bid you hope.'

"' Thank God !' exclaimed both sisters.

"I then inquired how long their mother had been ill.

"' For many weeks,' answered the elder; 'she has not been confined all the time to her bed, but has suffered greatly from debility and a heavy cough. We are too poor, as you see,' she added, glancing around the scantily furnished apartment, while a slight colour mantled her pale face, 1 to call in medical aid, when it is possible to dispense with it, and, therefore, our dear mother hag been gradually getting weaker and weaker!' A tear rolled down her cheek as she drew me to the bedside of the old man. 'Look; our poor father has been for years but little better than you now see him— scarcely conscious of existence. About two hours since, I was preparing to go out for a few moments; my father was sitting, as usual, in his chair, and my dear mother ^ad just thrown herself on the bed. I think my poor father must have had another fit, for he suddenly became convulsed, and fell forward upon the floor. My mother screamed, and sprang from the bed; but, alas, ruptured a bloodvessel in the attempt. The fright and exertion was too much for her, and she sank into the dying state in which you found her.'

"The poor girl eould no longer suppress her tears, and, for a few moments, wept unrestrainedly. I told the unhappy young girls that their father would not, probably, survive until morning; and, recommending such measures as I deemed judicious, returned into the other room. As I approached the bedside of my patient, she opened her eyes, and made au effort to speak. Placing my finger on my lips, I entreated her not to make the exertion. She then smiled faintly, and extended her hand. Now the truth suddenly flashed upon me:

"' You are Mrs. Chilson!' I exclaimed, clasping her feeble hand in mine."

"Chilson—did you say Chilson?" eagerly demanded Mrs. Mayhew, for the first time interrupting the narrative.

"Yes, my dear Mrs. Mayhew. It is indeed too true^Rn that suffering family I recognised that of the once wealthy Richard Chilson."

The Doctor paused a moment to subdue his emotion, and then continued.

"In their days of prosperity I was their friend and physician, and now found myself again singularly brought to the bedside of the once beautiful Mrs. Chilson. But how great the contrast! When last I stood by her sick couch every luxury and comfort surrounded her, all the delicacies which wealth could furnish to tempt the appetite, the soothing kindness of friends, the most experienced and careful nurses—and now— But I cannot go on; you should witness their present misery to feel the force of what I would say! But to return. After a while, finding I had known them in their prosperous days, the young girls freely related their sad history. It seems the chief support of the family was dependent upon the eldest daughter—a beautiful, charming girl, Mrs. Mayhew—who for some time has followed the profession of a seamstress. A month or two since she was suddenly thrown out of work, and"—

"0, I know all the rest I" cried Mrs. Mayhew, bursting into tears. "Poor, poor girl! thank God, I have at last found her I"

She then related to the sympathizing Doctor those events with which the reader is already acquainted. "And now, dear Doctor," she continued, "take me there at once—let us not lose a moment in going to the relief of this unhappy family!"

"God bless you, my dear woman!" exclaimed the Doctor, his honest countenance glowing with pleasure; "God bless you !—you will cheat me of my prerogative of doing good if I don't take care!"

Let us now give a brief space to Mrs. Harris.

On the same evening when poor Amy Chilson was bending almost heart-broken over her Buffering parent, she was dressing to attend a brilliant party given by the fashionable Mrs.

. For more than a week the successor of

Amy had been unremittingly tasked, in preparing the elegant costume in which Mrs. Harris chose to shine for that night, "and that night only." Another chef-d'mtvrc of this politic lady, was to put into the hands of her hired seamstress all the fine and difficult work, tho embroidery, flouncing, and furbelowing, and the endless trimmings usually left to the expert dress-maker or milliner. But such a course saved her many a dollar, which she felt free, therefore, to expend upon some new and costly article of dress, in turn to be made up in the same cheap manner.

Patient and uncomplaining poor Lydia Gales sat at her task, but the fingers of the needleslave moved slowly, for her strength was nearly exhausted, and a headache, as merciless as her employer tormented her. Now and then

ihe raised her eyes timidly, and with a look of dread to the time-piece, for it only wanted half an hour to the time when the dress would be required, and, alas ! there was yet much to be done to the beautiful robe, ere it could adorn the veil-made figure of Mrs. Harris.

That lady, enveloped in a costly ntgl\g(e, was under the hands of her hair-dresser, listening to choice bits of scandal, and trying to look graTe at the gross flattery of her maid, whose chief business seemed to be in throwing herself into every possible attitude expressive of her admiration, like a dancing Jack set in motion by a string. Mrs. Harris, however, was not so absorbed as to forget her robe, and now and then broke out with,

"Pray, Gales, have not you almost finished? Do make haste! I never saw any one so tedious —there, as I live, you are placing that flower upside down I"

She might have seen that tears were blinding the eyes of poor Lydia, who, making no reply, meekly corrected her mistake. The obsequious hair-dresser gave the finishing touch, and taking a last look as he made his exit, pronounced the head "magnifique," and the maid, giving a tragedy start, protested her mistress could not be more than Bixteen.

But Mrs. Harris was growing impatient—it was getting late, so she hurried and scolded unmercifully, which, of course, only served to procrastinate. At length, however, the dress was pronounced finished, and so indeed was the poor seamstress; for, as she withdrew the last basting-thread, she fainted and felf to the floor, unfortunately crushing, as she did so, a splendid bouquet, which, at the price of five dollars had just been sent in from the florist's. Of course there was a great outcry in the dressing-room, shrill screams, and cries for hartshorn and cologne, and when, at length, the poor girl was restored to consciousness, her awakening senses were greeted with " Dear me, what a fright I have made of myself! and look at my dress! I declare the trimming is quite rumpled! So you have come to," continued Mrs. Harris, looking over one shoulder at Lydia. "Well, Gales, I may as well tell you, you need not come to me any more: I cannot have my nerves so dreadfully shattered—why it would kill me in a week, I have so much sensibility. Here is a levy for you; it is all I have convenient—there, you may go now; to-morrow you can call for the rest of your money. I hope you will get better. Gales, but you look dreadfully sick, and you must see the absurdity of my employing anybody who is too feeble to work. I told you so, you remember, when you first came to me, so you see you have no one to blame but yourself; you ought to exert yourself more—there, good night,

Galea." And, turning to her mirror, Mrs. Harris coolly adjusted her ringlets, and admired the exquisite Ince which draped her shoulders.

The poor girl staggered to the door, and was forced to lean for support against the banisters for some moments, ere she could trust herself to descend the stairs.

0, Mrs. HarriB, could you have followed the tottering frame of that wretched girl to her miserable shelter—could you have entered with her into that low, damp cellar, where scarce a ray of Bunshine ever breaks the desolate gloom—have listened to the cries of starving, ragged children for "Bread, bread!"— would not the blush of shame have outrivalled the rouge upon your check?

In one corner of this squalid abode sat a man, whose red and bloated countenance told too plainly the tale of his degradation—before him stood a small riband-loom, but the shuttle was idle, for the arms of the man hung sluggishly down, his head resting on his breast, while his heavy and muttered breathing showed him to be sleeping. In another corner a pale, haggard woman, her hair falling matted and tangled from a dirty, torn cap, and her features ghastly with want and poverty, was striving to soothe the feeble wailing of a miserable little infant, which she held to her bosom.

Toor Lydia! What though her temples throb until the swollen veins seem bursting, and her trembling limbs can scarce bear her o'er the threshold, yet there is work, work to be done! No time for sickness have the poor—work—work —work; though the brain may whirl, and the heart Bink, and the strained eyeballs fain court the darkness of the grave, yet hand and foot must to the task—work, work, or—starve!

The step of Lydia, feeble as it was, aroused the sleeper. With a look of greedy joy he arose and staggered towards her.

"The money, the money, girl!" wrenching the work-bag from her hand, and eagerly rifling the little change it contained. "What, is this all?—curses on you!—now finish that job quick," jerking his head toward the loom; "quick, do you hear, it must go in in the morning." And then, with savage brutality thrusting aside a little child, who, clinging to his knees, begged for something to eat, the miserable wretch slammed to the door, to spend at the next grocer's stand the little earnings of his child!

And there is no work for the morrow—there is no work for the day after—a weekend still no work—no employment. Alas poor Lydia! Who shall dare to judge thee ?—Who shall dare to scorn thee, that, to save thy mother and those helpless babes, thou hast parted with thine only jewel—thy innocence

"The good name,—the Tirgin's pure renown— Woman's white robe, and honour's starry crown, Lost, lost for eTer I"

Better would it have been for thee, poor girl, to have died!

Such was the second result of Mrs. Harris's selfish policy. And would this were no common case. Yet could the secrets of all hearts be read, might not many of those whose sicklybeat is beneath the gauds of vice and shame, betray that the hand of selfishness—the pitiful desire to make the most of a bargain—the power which wealth must ever possess over the needy and destitute, has thrust them thus piteously forth to live and die outcast and degraded.'

Think of this, ye favoured sons and daughters of affluence, and deal mercifully and gently with the poor.

It is pleasant to look upon a brighter side of human nature than the last gloomy picture.

Under the unremitting and skilful care of

Dr. M , and the kindness of Mrs. Mayhew,

which brought comforts and luxuries to the sick couch, to which the poor invalid had long been a stranger, Mrs. Chilson was soon able to be removed to a pleasant little dwelling hired by the good physician, and a nice Irish girl employed to assist in the work.of the family. Caroline and Nina were placed at school, while the patronage of Mrs. Mayhew soon supplied Amy with constant employment, such, too, as she could do at home, without being forced to leave her mother, who was still in very delicate health.

One morning having finished a piece of work for which she knew Mrs. Mayhew was in a hurry, Amy put on her bonnet and carried it to her residence, which was only a few steps from her own. As she went through the hall, she met a gentleman apparently just leaving the house, who, as he passed the unassuming girl, politely raised his hat. Their eyes met, and, without knowing why, both parties involuntarily bowed;—although strangers, the thought for an instant glanced through the minds of each—" we have met before!"

"Strange 1" exclaimed Leonard Darlington, as he walked slowly down the street, "strange, how the countenance of that sweet girl perplexes me. 1 am sure I must have seen it before, out where I cannot remember,—heighho !—od^ in my dreams, I fear."

"Why, Leonard, I have waited for you this half hour !" cried his pretty sister Ida, meeting him. "Do you forget, truant, that you en

gaged yourself to Cornelia and me for the morning? Fie, what an ungallant lover!"

"Pray, sister," retorted Leonard somewhat impatiently, " don't apply the title of lover to me quite yet, if you please. I have told you often that my heart can never belong to Miss Nixon, —but ah, Ida, such a sweet vision as just now met my eyes!—would that I could trace it'."

"And where, my very sensitive brother, did this same vision cross your path ?" demanded Ida.

"In the vestibule at Mrs. Mayhew's. She was not a visiter, I should judge. I might perhaps, from her simple attire, conclude her to be some humble relative of the family."

"Ha ha.' poor Leonard!—now I'll bet you your wedding gloves that you have lost your heart to Mrs. Mayhew's pretty chambermaid, or her dressmaker;—fickle, fickle fellow! And what becomes, pray, of your six years' fealty to poor Amy Chilson ?" interrupted Ida, laughing merrily.

"Amy Chihon !" mused Leonard; "Amy— By heavens! her very eye; but no, it cannot be—yet how strangely her countenance brings up before me the beautiful features of Amy."

The same evening Leonard presented himself before Mrs. Mayhew, not a little to the surprise of the lady, for only that morning he had offered as an apology for not accepting some invitation she had for him, a previous engagement to the opera."

Leonard soon introduced the subject which brought him there by observing:

"As I left your house this morning, my dear madam, I passed a young lady in the hall whose countenance greatly interested me, and my desire to discover who she was, is tile only apology I have to give for my apparent fickleness of purpose."

"This morning, Mr. Darlington? I believe I have had no visiters to-day but Miss Cassidy; you are acquainted with her, I think?"

"Oh no, it was not Miss Cassidy by any means," said Leonard, smiling. "The young lady I allude to was dressed in very simple mourning, and if I mistake not, she had a small paper parcel"

"Oh, now I think I know—yes, she has a. very sweet countenance indeed,—I don't wonder it struck you," cried Mrs. Mayhew.

"But who—who is she?" impatiently demanded her visiter.

"It is Miss Chilson—Amy Chilson—a young lady who"

Leonard waited to hear no further, but springing from the sofa, he seized the hand of Mrs. Mayhew, pressing and kissing it, as though the dainty little digits of Amy were already within his clasp.

"My dear, dear lady, you hare made me the happieBt of men!" he exclaimed. "Yon have restored to me her whom for months I have vainly sought;—where is she,—where may I find her, Mrs. Mayhew?"

"Not a thousand miles off!" she replied, smiling; "only up one flight of stairs—as the H young lady happens at the present moment to be engaged in a game of romps with little Miss Lilla and Master Harry,—you shall see her presently; only restrain your impatience, and hear me for a moment."

She then gave Leonard a brief sketch of her acquaintance with the Chilsons, to which you may be sure he listened with breathless interest.

We will not trace the path of our young heroine further—we found her in poverty, and we leave her in a state of affluence, which, as the wife of Leonard Darlington, she honours and adorns. With her, her mother and sisters find a happy home, and it is needless to say that she who could make so dutiful a child, cannot fail of being an exemplary wife.

As for Mrs. Harris, she was the first to call

upon the once despised " Chilton." But Amy shrank from her with abhorrence. Whenever she meets her, the memory of that bitter night when she was turned hopeless from her door— the image of that poor old man—of that suffering mother—come up before her, and she turns faint and shuddering away.

Let us hope, however, there are not many of my fair countrywomen who resemble Mrs. Harris in heart, although there may be those who are thoughtlessly pursuing the same destructive course, who sincerely think they are not only doing their duty to their families, but really take credit to themselves for the cheap rates which they pay the poor seamstress. This is not because they are hard-hearted, of would willingly impose upon those whom they employ—it is want of consideration—culpable, I allow, but not irreparable. There is room for a better state of things; and may the day soon come when the truth of Hood's touching appeal may no longer ring upon the conscience.



Alofz, alone in a forest glade,

Where the brave old trees cast a leafy shade.

And where no sound on the balmy air

Tells of the dio in a world of care.

Yet not alone! There are forms around

That dance on the boughs, and chequer the ground;

No, not alone, for Beauty Is here,

With joy for the eye, and song for the ear.

The streamlet is murmuring by in glee,

Seeking its home in the far-off sea,

And the listener's heart In its depths is stirred

At the joyous note of the singing bird;

And the distant horn, and the tinkling bell,

With soothing melody reach the dell.

There's a dancing of leaves on every spray,

And a flitting of birds in plumage gay,

And the wild-bees' hum, and the zephyr's note

Upon the ear with a sweetness float.

There's a blushing of flowers on bough and mound,

While sunbeams play In the vista round.

Obi who could call It a lonely scene,

With its wealth of song, and its dress of green?

I feel it no solitude lingering here,

Though Nature's the only companion near.

Alone, alone in the twilight gray,

Afar from the social hall away,

Where the flowers are closed with dews empcarled,

And the shadows of evening shroud the world.

Yet not alone! O'er the dusky earth

There are things of love and music forth;

And tbe voices of night are whispering near.

That fall with joy on the listening ear.

Bark! in the shadows misty and dim,

Nature la chiming her vesper hymn.

The wind-song has died to a murmur low,

And the playing brook has a gentle flow,—

On the dewy air its tones are borne

With the night-bird's note from the distant thorn.

And look to the sky I in its changing shade

What a change one brief-told hour has made!

For the glorious stars, from their far-off home,

Have takon their watch in the night's blue dome,

And now o'er the couch of the sleeping earth

Are showering tbe shining treasures forth.

What though far from the festive throng,

Where light feet trip to the wildering song,

Companionship greets me along my way,

And unseen harps in the mists are at play.

I feel not alone; for the radiant sky

Beams with a joy on thajgazer's eye,

And a whispered hymn from the mantled earth

Calls slumbering bliss from the spirit forth.

Alone, alone at the midnight hour,

When silence broods with a holy power

O'er the watcher's heart, as he treads the hall,

Where no sounds save the hollow echoes fall.

Yet not alone I For while I stand,

Memory weaves, with a shadowy wand,

A spell for the heart, a dreamy spell,

Tales of the misty past to^elt.

Yes*, they come in a noiseless throng,

Things that have slept in the memory long,

And the fancies of childhood, waking, seem

As fresh as when formed by tbe summer stream.

And the boyish hope, and the warbled tone

Of the little maid that I called my own,

Come back to my heart with a kindling power,

And chase the gloom from the midnight hour.

Oh! I feel it no solitude lingi-ring here,

Though my thoughts are the only companions near.

« 上一页继续 »