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hungry, and the same wicked thought came across me, the Lord of the Abbey met me, and he spoke so kindly, that I cried as much as when James left me; and he gave me this pretty cottage, and plenty of washing for the under servants at the Abbey. God bless him for it, God bless him, as He will !"
“The Lord of the Abbey has plenty of money, he can afford to be good,” said the surly old woman.
“So he can ; but many lords who are very rich never do any good,” replied Mary ; " some will tell their servants to turn the poor from their doors, and some would not talk to a beggar for all the world ; and many enter their rich carriages, and surlily shake their heads at poor people.”
Sally clenched her fist, as if, like the Emperor Nero, she had a wish of centering all heads into one, and she would then
gladly have levelled a blow at those whom Cræsus favoured; but she was dreadfully ungrateful when she continued, with sardonic glee, “ Talking of dying, Mary—ha, ha, ha! the rich die as well as the poor, and they are no better food for the worms than we are. There's the Lord of the Abbey dying —what a glorious funeral there will be ! such cake and wine, such a string of carriages !”
“And is it thus you talk of the death of your benefactor ?” exclaimed a gentle voice; and to Sally's evident mortification Alice Lemington stood before her.
“Forgive me for listening to her,” cried Mary, clasping her hands ; " indeed I am grateful !”
“ Grateful! I think she is indeed! Oh! my gracious, how she goes on about being grateful!” said Sally; “I can't be grateful, and why should I? God never meant us to cringe to each other. The Lord of the Abbey will die, and so shall I—then we shall both go before the judgment-seat, and I remember—it is a long, long time ago, I used to read my Bible then—and I saw how the beggar went to Heaven and the rich man to hell.”
“ True, Sally,” said Alice, shuddering at the coarse manner in which the illiterate woman talked of the sacred revealings. “But the rich man in the parable was wicked, and, as far as we are able to judge, Lord Cunnington will die the death of the righteous. You ought to pray for your benefactor, not to talk like that.”
“And what avail are my prayers ?”
“Oh! something; only pray,—think of your everlasting salvation, and pray for yourself ;” and Alice Lemington took the hard, withered hand within hers, wondering how she had ever been afraid of the poor, weak, silly creature before her.
Some emotion Sally had not known for many years flitted across her imagination, for a few tears sprung to those small, piercing eyes.
“Will you pray for me?” she said, doubtfully.
“That will I !” said Alice, “ night and morning, and you must say your prayers thus—”
The young girl sunk upon her knees, and her sweet voice breathed the words so fervently, that Sally involuntarily listened ; perhaps an older and sterner person would have spoken in vain, but as Alice knelt, her large upraised hazel eyes,—her brown tresses falling over her fair skin,—there was something so angelic in the expression of her face, that a thrill of admiration passed through the old crone's mind. Just then the sun was sinking to rest, and the lingering rays of that rich golden tinge which
hovers around his efforts to enter the west cast a bright halo around the fair creature, and served to make the scene more inpressive.
Mary, the poor forsaken gul, was on her knees also, and at a respectful distance from Alice, who was only aware of the circumstance when she heard a heartfelt amen at the conclusion of her prayer.
“That will do,” said Sally, roughly breaking the charming spell of the moment ; and Alice arose hoping, notwithstanding the interruption, that the seeds, though tardily sown, would not altogether fall upon a barren soil.
As Alice was leaving the cottage she met Cunnington ; and, although the days had been when her eyes could seek his face and her cheeks did not blush, she now felt the crimson tide mount to her temples, and her voice faltered as she