IT was a wet
Christmas that year, and during her long journey Emily saw little of
the scenery that she passed through. The winter day closed
early, and it had been dark three hours when they at length arrived
at the station, and Emily found herself in London.
The noise and confusion at first bewildered her, and she was
glad she had no harder task to perform than to stand by her boxes
while Mr. Glover got a cab for her. In spite of the pushing
and jostling of passengers, who were distracted because a box or a
bundle was not yet forthcoming, and in spite of the civil 'By your
leave' of the porters, as they pushed past their luggage-barrows,
she contrived to stand quietly till her good friend came to her, got
the boxes put on the cab, handed her in, gave directions to the
driver, and shook hands with her.
She was now alone, and the cab began to move through London
streets; the brilliant lights, the splendid shops, the crowding
passengers, dazzled and delighted her; but she felt very anxious as
to her reception by Mrs. Smalley; and moreover, she feared her boxes
would be wet before they reached their destination. Almost
every street they turned into Emily said: 'I wonder whether this is
it? I wonder whether this is where Mrs. Smalley lives?
― but, no; on they went, till all
the shops were gone and rows of private houses succeeded.
These were very handsome, but looked cold and inhospitable, with all
their windows shut and curtains drawn against the world without; but
the longest street, even in London, has its last house, and at the
last of these, in a particularly long street, the driver stopped at
length, and thundered at a remarkably imposing-looking door.
'Dear me!' thought Emily, 'I wish he would not make such a
noise. I hope Mrs. Smalley won't be angry.'
Emily looked up at the large blank house, and then at the
pavement, on which rain in such quantities had been splashing all
day, that it was washed quite clean from the dirt and blacks of
London, and shone with broken and uncertain reflections of the
The driver knocked again, and Emily noticed that this house
differed from most that she had passed, in having no lamp in the
hall: at last a dim light was visible inside, and the door was
half-opened by a particularly dirty-looking servant, with a black
cap on, and curl-papers beneath it.
'Dear me!' thought Emily: 'I suppose the footman only answers
the door to Mrs. Smalley's grand customers. What a dirty
servant for such a grand house! However, she had not much time
for reflection, she paid the driver, and ran up the steps, asking
'Do you know whether Mrs. Smalley expects me?'
The woman looked confused, and as the driver was already
setting Emily's boxes within the door, she said:
'What's these for? I reckon you've mistook the house?'
Emily now found that she was a little hard of hearing, and
repeated her question
'Does Mrs. Smalley expect me? Is she at home?'
'Mrs. Smalley?' repeated the woman; 'why, miss, she has left
this two months.'
'Left!' repeated Emily, shocked and frightened. 'I did not
know that; please tell the cabman to wait. I must go on to
her. Do you know where she has moved to?'
'No, nor nobody else,' replied the woman, coolly.
'Then I can't go to her to-night,' said Emily, frightened,
and feeling all the desolates of her situation. 'Oh! what
shall I do? Please let me come inside for a moment; I shall be
'If you want the cabman, you'd better say so at once,'
observed the woman, for he's just a-driving off. There, you're
too late that gentleman has called him.'
'Please let me stand inside,' pleaded Emily, 'till I can
consider what to do; the lady will not object to that, will she?'
'Lady, there's no lady. The house is empty, and I am
put in to take care of it. You may stand in the 'all, if you
like, for a few minutes.'
'Emily came in and stood, the picture of perplexity and
distress. The woman stood beside her, with her greasy tin
candlestick in her hand, which she tapped every few moments
impatiently with the door-key; Emily looked up the desolate
uncarpeted staircase, still strewed with shaving-like lengths of
paper and wisps of hay, in which the furniture had been packed, and
'Surely you can remember, or find out for me, where Mrs.
Smalley has moved to: it must be somewhere at this end of London, on
account of her business.'
'It's nothing of the sort,' replied the woman, impatiently.
'Mrs. Smalley is not to be found anyhow, she has run away from her
'Run away!' repeated Emily, aghast.
'I said run away, plain enough, young woman, repeated the
dirty warder of the house. You need not stare like that.
She could not pay her debts. They say she speculated in
railways; however, one fine day, madam was off, and the bailiffs
came in: and there has been a sale, and that's all I know about it.'
The rain spattered and splashed outside, and the dirty candle
guttered inside. Emily was wet, weary, hungry, and altogether cast
down, and she said to the woman
'Would you be so kind as to let me sit by your fire, and give
me something to eat? I could pay for it, and for a bed, if you
Perhaps the rough housekeeper found Emily's voice persuasive;
perhaps she pitied her distress and admired her youth and beauty;
for she certainly softened her voice a little, and said, less
'Well, I've been a-washing to-day, and the place ain't to say
comfortable, but you may come and sit by the fire, if you like. O
yes, you may come.'
How different was everything she saw and heard from what her
fancy had so frequently pictured! Here was a London
underground kitchen hung with wet clothes, a huge range screwed up
to its narrowest proportions, and those not half-filled with a
smouldering fire. All the light was afforded by the one
candle, which had shown her the empty hall and the desolation up
stairs. Emily sat and shivered and pondered. Tired,
hungry, and dispirited, what could she do? She earnestly hoped
that she should not be turned out that night, and when her
entertainer agreed to let her share a very uncomfortable and by no
means clean-looking bed that stood in one corner of the ample floor,
she felt truly thankful, and asked for something to eat, which was
set before her on consideration of her paying for it.
Emily ate and drank, then sat with her feet on the fender,
and pondered again till the woman was ready for bed; but, tired as
she was, she could not rest during this, her first night in London.
The dull noise of distant vehicles, the rattle of those that passed
the house, her own self-reproaches and regrets that she had been
over-persuaded to come up to London before an answer had been
received from Mrs. Smalley: all these things together kept her
waking till morning should have appeared, but it dawns very late in
a London kitchen in December; and when, after one hour's sleep, she
awoke, roused by her companion, who was dressed, she heard to her
astonishment that it was eight o'clock, and saw that the darkness
was then sufficient to make them dependent on the well-known dip
The woman casually remarked that it was rather a foggy
morning; and Emily, looking out, had her first experience of a
London fog, which, to her surprise, changed from amber to brown, and
from brown to a greenish-grey, more than once before their cheerless
breakfast was over.
After breakfast Emily said she would go and endeavour to
obtain a situation with some other milliner, as Mrs. Smalley had
failed her. But as hour after hour wore on, and she could
hardly discern the opposite houses, her companion declared that it
would be highly dangerous to go out, for she would infallibly lose
herself; and Emily, though sorely against her will, felt that her
present asylum, dismal as it was, was better than having her last
night's experience over again. So she sat lamenting her haste
in coming up to London, till, the fog becoming more white, she had
light enough to see to read, and got out a book, with which she
beguiled the time till dinner was ready, and after that, as some
bread was wanted, she insisted on accompanying her hostess to fetch
it from the baker's. So dismal a walk she had never taken; the
fog hemmed them in, and she felt as if her country lungs could
hardly breathe in it; but at least it was new and strange, and when
they turned out of their own street into one which was crowded with
people and full of shops, she was bewildered and yet pleased with
all she saw; with the grand windows lighted up as if it was night,
and even with the people who pressed past her showing their shrewd
pale faces, and then vanishing in the fog. She did not walk a
quarter of a mile, but could not help being glad that her companion
had not suffered her to go out by herself, and when they reached the
empty house again, she was really thankful for the shelter it
Emily was to pay half of what the various articles for their
meals had cost. There was a piece of beefsteak, some tea, some
bread, a cabbage, and some potatoes. Emily set these items
down on a slate, and put her hand in her pocket to draw out her
purse. It was not there, and she looked towards her work-box,
'I must have left it behind me.'
'No, you didn't,' said the woman; 'for I remember
particularly saying to you, "take a shilling or two in your pocket,
but don't take all your money if you have much;" and says you, "No;
I may want more than that," and you put the purse in your pocket.'
Emily searched again; it was certainly gone.
'Surely,' said the woman, 'you never walked about in that fog
without minding your pocket?'
'I never thought of my pocket,' said Emily, 'and I don't
believe in such a dark day anybody could find the pocket-hole.'
'Why, what's this?' asked her companion. 'Dear, dear, I
never gave it a thought to tell you to mind yourself; I thought
you'd sense to watch over your own earnings. Look here,
they've been and cut a hole in your gown, and got a hand through it,
and carried the purse clean off, as I'm a Christian woman!'
At first Emily could hardly believe that so great a
misfortune had happened to her. She started up, declaring that
the purse might have been left in her work-bag; it might have been
dropped on the floor; but after several fruitless searches, it
became too evident that she had been robbed, and she sank down on
her chair quite pale with agitation, and sat motionless, till her
companion at last roused her by asking the colour of the purse.
'Was it purple leather or green ?' she said.
'What does that matter now?' muttered Emily.
'Matters a great deal,' was the reply ; 'because I'm going
off to the police-court about it.'
Emily roused herself, and seeing her companion already
dressed in her shawl, and pinning her bonnet strings, thanked her,
gave the required description, and added:
'But it's no use telling the police, Mrs. Smart. I feel
sure, now that I come to think about it, that the purse was stolen
while we were pressing up to the pastry cook's window to look at
those cakes; and there was nothing in it but money; no note or
post-office order that might be known again. O dear me!
'Well, well, child, don't cry and take on; pick-pockets are
taken up sometimes with the things they stole upon them; so don't
So saying, Mrs. Smart walked off, and Emily wept at her
leisure. She was naturally hopeful, and even when she found
that Mrs. Smalley had failed her, she consoled herself by thinking
that she could get a situation with another milliner, or she could,
if that proved impossible, come home again when the Christmas
holidays were over, take her papers to the diocesan examination at
Salisbury, and give up her dream of making a fortune as a London
milliner. But now she had no money wherewith to return, and
her pride was deeply wounded at the notion that she could not return
to Dorsetshire without selling those handsome clothes which she had
bought in order to fit herself, as she supposed, for her new sphere.
No; she felt that she could not and would not do that. She
must stay in London, at least till she had earned enough to go home
with; but in the meantime she must live. She owed Mrs. Smart
two shillings and fourpence; she must get her to take payment in the
shape of some article of clothing, and she must get work at once
to-morrow, whether the day was foggy or fine.
Mrs. Smart soon came back; she was kinder to Emily than could
be expected, considering that she was quite a stranger to her.
She told her that till she got work she might have her bed free of
charge, provided she could pay for her food: coals, candles, and
house-room she received for her trouble, as well as a small weekly
'So you are welcome to stop, young woman,' she observed, with
condescending kindness, 'for I find it lonesome being here by
myself, specially o' nights.'
Emily was grateful for this kindness, but felt how much she
had already come down in the world, when a dirty and ignorant woman
such as Mrs. Smart could lay her under an obligation, and treat her
with patronizing pity.
That night, weariness made her sleep in spite of sorrow, and
the next morning was tolerably fine, and the buoyant spirits of
youth in part returned to her, and she dressed herself neatly and
went out early to seek for a situation. Mrs. Smart had
counselled her to ask her way only of the policemen whom she would
see from time to time, and by no means to remain out till it became
dusk. She also told her that there were no less than three
milliners in a street very near at hand, and having given her ample
directions as to how she should find it, she shut the door after
her, and poor Emily went forth alone to seek her fortunes. She
could not well be robbed now, for she had nothing in her pocket, and
she thought she could not well fail in finding work in a place which
contained such multitudes of employers.
The winter day wore on, and though Mrs. Smart had charged
Emily not to be late, the lamplighter was in the street when she
answered the door and let her in. Wet, pale, and weary, she
came in without a word, closed her dripping umbrella, and sat down
in the dim kitchen, as she had not spirit or strength enough left to
divest herself of her out-of-door dress.
'Had aught to eat, child?' asked Mrs. Smart.
Emily's shivering figure drew itself up, and she seemed to
shrink from being questioned, but when asked again, she answered
'Well, the tea will be ready in a minute. Got a
'No,' repeated Emily.
' 'I did not expect you would, child, in such a
hurry. Dear me, some folks expect situations to come in crowds
the minute they wants 'em, just as black beetles come when it gets
Emily knew to her sorrow that the illustration of the black
beetles was not drawn from the good woman's imagination, but from
her familiar daily life; indeed, while she spoke a large one peeped
from a crack, and came on briskly towards Emily's foot.
She started up with more alacrity than even the prospect of a
home could make her, in order to get out of the way of her black
fellow-lodger, and as she wearily walked to her box, and took off
and deposited therein her bonnet and cloak, she listened with
languid patience to Mrs. Smart's moral sentiments, which went to
prove that she, Mrs. Smart, thought that young people ought not to
expect too much, seeing that, as far as it appeared, they never got
more than a little; however, they ought to think themselves well off
when they had a good house over their heads that never was built for
them, nor such as them. 'A house,' continued Mrs. Smart,
wandering from the point, 'that has five bedrooms and two
dressing-rooms, let alone parlours and pantries, and what not, and
which is now empty entirely, along of them railways, which is the
greatest conveniency that ever was for them that want to travel, and
I wish there was more of them. Now, child, come to your tea.'
Emily drew her chair to the table, and as she drank the
steaming tea and ate the bread and butter, her fainting spirits
revived a little, and the colour returned to her cheeks.
'It's a little strange, too,' observed Mrs. Smart, 'that you
could not meet with any work, child, for this is a busy time, and
most of the houses very full of work.'
'I could have got work, if I had been willing to do it for
almost nothing,' said Emily. 'I've been sent away for all
sorts of reasons. One said she never took young girls to teach
they were more trouble than they were worth; and one said she
should expect a premium, and pay me nothing for the first six
months; and another said I did not look as if I should suit; and the
last offered such a little for a day's work, that I could not pay
you for my food with it, and I saw a good many who would have
nothing to say to me.'
'You're too high, child, too high by half. You don't
look like a prentice girl, and you speak so fine and dress so smart,
that they don't know what to make of you,' replied Mrs. Smart.
'Now, if I was you, I would rather work for sixpence a day than sit
idle here like a fine lady.'
Emily sighed bitterly, and felt with keen shame that, though
this advice was most distasteful to her, Mrs. Smart had a full right
to offer it, for she was giving her that tea, and allowing her to
run in debt for her food.
She sat silent, however, and could not assent to the remark,
that it was better to work for sixpence a day than be idle like a
fine lady. Fine lady indeed, in a dirty kitchen, and about to
sleep in a dingy bed; fine lady, without a penny in her pocket, or a
friend within two hundred miles of her, or any prospect but hard
work, or any hope but to return speedily to the very occupation she
had considered so much beneath her !
The downward path in life is always easy; when once descent
begins, it is not only hard to rise, but hard to prevent the further
decline. Poor Emily found this to her cost; she went out
several days in search of work, but did not succeed in getting any
that she thought it worth her while to take. She had no money,
and by degrees the contents of her boxes had been disposed of some
to Mrs. Smart, some to the pawnbrokers in the neighbourhood
― till by the time she had been a
month in London, she had not enough of her good outfit left to bring
in money for a journey home; and the chance work she had done from
time to time had only served to show her how hard was the work of a
London sempstress. It had not occurred to her when first she
took a shawl to the pawnshop, that it would be difficult to get it
out; and this way of raising a little money seemed so easy,
moreover she did not particularly want the shawl, so it went; and
she got taken on as an 'extra hand' at a very grand millinery
establishment, where the wages were not very bad, and when by the
day that she had saved enough to take her things out of pawn, she
determined to leave that part of London, and go and apply for a
situation at the office of the Home and Colonial Schools Society.
Emily did not know what she should have to undergo as an
'extra hand;' she found it hard to sit up night after night till two
or three o'clock, finishing the endless wedding orders, or mourning
orders, or ball-dresses, which poured in upon the fashionable
milliners, and had been positively promised for so early a day that
it seemed impossible that the promise could be kept.
Day after day, as the over-dressed and pompous head of the
house sailed into the workroom, Emily heard, with a sinking heart,
'I wouldn't disappoint Lady W. on any account; that blue silk dress
must go home punctually at six o'clock. Let the cerise
tarlatan be put in hand immediately, as well as the white and amber;
Lady Georgians was positively promised that she should have them
both to-night, in time for Mrs. A.'s reception, that she may choose
which she likes best. That mourning order ought to be in a
greater state of forwardness; the young people cannot go home till
it is finished.'
Being only an extra hand, Emily had to return to her home at
whatever hour of the night the work was finished; and as the heated
workroom, with its unwholesome atmosphere, made her feverish and
weak, the sudden change to night air, rain, snow, or fog, had a very
bad effect on her constitution: she became pale and thin, and her
eyelids heavy and red with overwork and bad light, and her gait
stooping from constantly bending over her task.
'There's a letter for you,' said Mrs. Smart, as she opened
the door to her one evening in March.
Emily took it with great pleasure; it was the first letter
from home. She saw that it was in John Mills' handwriting, and
addressed to her at Mrs. Smalley's.
'He does not know of my present circumstances,' she thought;
and she took the letter down and read it with avidity:
grandmother has felt very unwell this past week, and last night had
the doctor; but he does not seem to think there is very much the
matter with her, at least he said he saw no reason why she should
not recover. She does not think so herself, for she told my
mother she was sure she was taken for death, and she wished she
could see you; so I said I would write, and I was to say that if
Mrs. Smalley could spare you she would take it very kind.
I feel that you may think it odd I cannot call you Emily, but
I know there is a great difference of station between us now, and
you are living in luxury while I am only a workman, so I began this
without taking the liberty to write your Christian name, and now,
for fear you should misunderstand, I must tell you why.
'You have such a kind heart that I know you will be glad to
hear of father being better, so that now he can sit up all day and
amuse himself with netting; and as for me, I sent up the figure that
you know of, and Mr. Clements wrote me word that a gentleman he knew
had valued it at fourteen pounds, "which," said he, "is more than I
expected, and it is not convenient to me to give such a sum for it,
therefore I have sent it to be disposed of at that price."
Would you believe that I should be so well off, Miss Welland?
A great lady saw it, and bought it, and Mr. Clements has forwarded
me the money, so now all our debts are paid, and what is better, I
have got an order for another figure from the same cast.
'I have not heard anything from Mrs. Smalley respecting the
monument; and if you should find an opportunity to mention it to her
I should be very much obliged to you.
'Perhaps I may be in London before long, for as soon as I
have carved this new order I shall have money in hand to last the
family for seven weeks, and therefore I think I shall have a right
to leave them for that time; and I think of walking up to London to
see whether I can improve myself or get higher wages than I now
earn. I shall not take the liberty to call on you, unless I
hear that it would be agreeable, for I know I have no chance with
you, and I would not wish that you should think me troublesome,
though I shall always be, as long as I breathe, your faithful lover,
Emily read this letter over and over again. She was
made very uneasy by the account of her grandmother, who would
scarcely have asked to see unless she had firmly believed herself to
be dying. But to go to her was out of the question. Her
work did not quite pay for her board, and her clothes were slowly
diminishing. She had been nine weeks in London; nine weeks
divided between hard work and the scarcely less hard work of seeking
for it. She knew that return, for the present, was impossible,
and she went to her task the next morning with a heavy heart,
intending to write to John by the next day's post not to tell him
how gladly and thankfully she would return if she had the means, but
to beg him to send her further particulars, and to give her love and
duty to her grandmother.
She left work, however, so late on Saturday night that it was
Sunday morning before she reached home. Another letter from
John awaited her, a long, considerate, and most kind letter; and
she thought so herself as soon as she could see to read it for her
tears. Her grandmother had died quietly very soon after the
first letter had been posted, and her son and daughter had been sent
for from the village in the neighbourhood where they lived; they had
taken possession of what the good woman had left, and had accepted
John's offer to write and give Emily an account of her death.
Moreover, they had sent word that Emily had better stop where she
was, and not think of spending money in coming home, as there was
nothing for her to do. A very fulsome message to Mrs. Smalley
was also conveyed by John from the said son and daughter, and a
humble request that she would permit their mother's name to appear
also on the much-talked-of monument.
It was well for Emily that the next day was Sunday; it gave
her time to shed her natural tears over her kind old grandmother,
and to write to John.
She now felt that she had no tie to Dorsetshire, no object in
returning, that she was thrown entirely on her own resources, must
work for her bread, and strive earnestly to rectify the mistake she
had made, and rise again into the position she had lost.
As a proof, however, that adversity had not been without its
use, she hesitated long between pride and a desire to be sincere;
and at last sincerity so far triumphed, that she told John she felt
sure he would never hear from Mrs. Smalley respecting the monument,
for that Mrs. Smalley was not able to pay her just debts, but she
added partly to save John from anxiety respecting her, partly from
a desire to keep her altered circumstances from her little world in
Dorsetshire 'I am with quite as grand a milliner as Mrs. Smalley
ever was, and one who employs more work-people.'
So much she could say with truth the rest of her experience
she left unsaid, but she added several expressions of friendship for
John, which that kind-hearted fellow prized highly, and which, if he
could have known how Emily's mind was turning to him in her trouble,
and how much more highly she thought of him than she had done in her
prosperity, he would have prized still more.
And so John was getting on, and rising slowly out of that
poverty and distress in which she had seen him; John, whose
conscientious scruples had prevented him from taking one doubtful
step, and who had suffered so patiently, not only poverty, but the
want of that teaching which alone as it had seemed could enable him
to rise; John was likely to have it at last, and could have it
Emily thought much of this; she repented of that craving
ambition which had made her formerly so discontented with her lot,
and she now felt that needlework was but a poor exchange for the
pleasure of teaching, and the comfort of being able to make some use
of that love of order and talent for governing children, which all
who possess invariably wish to exercise, especially when they have
once had the opportunity of doing so.
'Let me only get my things out of pawn,' was her thought,
'and I will apply for a situation at one of the schools in London,
or I will even venture to set up a day-school of my own.' But
week after week wore on, and instead of taking her goods out of
pawn, more and more had got into the hands of the pawnbroker, for
the simple reason that she never got enough regular work to enable
her to pay for her board. At last, in despair of ever earning
wages to pay for her food, she resolved to bring her food down to
the level of her wages: a natural resolution, but not wise, for poor
Emily was not accustomed to the London air and the late hours, and
the close application that she now had to submit to, and when to
these she added a meagre diet, she soon found, not that denying her
appetite made her hungry, but that she could not eat even what she
provided, and left at every meal some of her bread and of the two or
three radishes which she had substituted for butter, meat, or
She was getting out of debt to Mrs. Smart; but this did not
give her the pleasure she expected, and a degree of sleepiness was
creeping over her which made her often sit at work in a half doze.
A kind-hearted companion, who sat next to her, took pains to keep
her awake, at least when any of the superiors of the house came in;
but Emily dozed again as fast as she was awakened, and one evening,
happening to be dismissed early, she was conscious of a degree of
drowsiness, even in the street, which it required all her little
strength to resist.
Oh, how welcome was the shade of the desolate hall, and the
repose of the dingy bed, after the light and noise of the street!
Emily felt that, come what would, now she must rest; and the next
day, though conscious of repeated assurances from Mrs. Smart that
she would be late for the workroom, she fell away from one doze to
another, and wished for nothing but to lie quiet, and drink,
whenever she woke, a long draught of water.
At last, late in the afternoon, a sharp, distinct voice
decidedly woke her.
'Sleep, sir? she does nothing but sleep, and for the last ten
days she has eaten, as one may say, a mere nothing.'
It was Mrs. Smart who spoke, and Emily felt that some one
took hold of her hand. She opened her eyes, and met a quiet,
steady gaze fixed upon her. Mrs. Smart had evidently fetched a
'I am not ill, sir,' said Emily.
The doctor smiled compassionately, and continued to feel her
pulse, but Emily could not attend to what he said sufficiently to
answer his questions. She heard him say, 'The girl has a great
deal of low fever hanging about her,' and then the old faint
drowsiness came over her again. She felt pleased shortly after
to have a cup of tea given to her, but after that, night and day
began to be confused in her mind, and though she was never
absolutely delirious, she could not govern her thoughts or speak
Every day the doctor came to see her, and she felt a kind of
satisfaction in seeing his calm attentive face, and in hearing his
quiet questions: 'And how do you feel to-day, Emily Welland?'
'No pain? that's well.'
'She never complains of anything, sir,' Mrs. Smart would
remark. Mrs. Smart had become very kind and good to her now.
'She is as patient as a lamb,' was her frequent observation; 'and if
I ask her how she does, she always says she's better.'
A long time passed in this way. At last, one afternoon,
Emily opened her eyes, and observed that it was Sunday. She
was led to make this observation because she saw that Mrs. Smart had
cleaned herself, taken off her curl-papers, and put on the green
mousseline-de-laine gown that she never wore but on Sunday
afternoon. After lying still a while, looking about her, she
observed that her own two boxes were gone from their usual places,
and this made her still more wakeful. She was aware that
whatever illness she had suffered from was passing away, and she
found strength to repeat in a faint tone, 'Mrs. Smart! Mrs.
Mrs. Smart was toasting bread, and when she came at Emily's
call she brought a piece with her, and some tea, telling her that
the doctor had said she was much better, and when she awoke might
eat and drink a little.
'I know you have been very good to me,' said Emily, looking
at her; 'you have nursed me, and I was nothing to you.'
Mrs. Smart was evidently not sorry to hear Emily speak
sensibly; and perhaps, after the trouble and pains she had been at,
she was also glad to find that her patient was grateful.
'I have done according to orders,' she replied, 'and the
doctor knows I haven't sold more of your clothes than I could help;
it was all done with his knowledge.'
'Have I anything left?' asked Emily, humbly.
'Yes, child, your best pink muslin gown, and your best pair
of boots, and your prize books, besides the clothes you went to work
At another time this news would have shocked Emily; but now
she was returning from the dreary delusive world of fever to sense,
life, and reality, and thankfulness was her prevailing feeling, and
she took the toast and tea with such relish as those who have never
been in her circumstances cannot possibly understand.
It was a chilly day in the middle of April when Emily had
left her work; it was a hot morning early in June when she crept
languidly forth again in her working clothes. The pink muslin
dress and the best boots had followed her other possessions, and, in
the expressive language of the poor, she had nothing now but what
she stood upright in.
The kind-hearted doctor had told her to call at his house in
the neighbouring square, of which he had promised to lend her the
key, that she might go in and sit down under the trees and enjoy the
quiet and the comparatively fresh air.
Emily entered the square, and sat down under the shade of
some young lime-trees. The air revived her, and the quiet and
freshness of the place did her good; but she was recovering her
strength slowly, and was aware that her natural anxiety about the
future was keeping her back. She sat long, with her pale cheek
leaning on her hand, meditating as to what course she should pursue.
She possessed but one sixpence now, and was not strong enough to
work; moreover, her friend Mrs. Smart would not long be able to
afford her a shelter, for the house was let, and in less than a
fortnight the new tenants would dispense with her services.
THE last six
months seemed to Emily like a dream. She felt deeply that she
had made a great mistake; but as she had long regretted it, and
wished to repair it, she thought it rather hard that she had been
unable to do so. The one false step of leaving her own line in
life in which she had grown up, and which she was so well fitted
for, she did not now see how to rectify: first, for want of money to
reach the different places at any one of which she could have been
examined for her certificate; and secondly, for want of clothes, for
London had made sad havoc with the one gown and bonnet that she had
left. She was not strong enough to take a teacher's situation
now, and though she thought it very likely that her old friend and
mistress, Miss Cooper, would be very glad to recommend her in case
she came back, and might have influence enough to induce the Vicar
to overlook her withdrawal, she felt with a pang of pride that she
could not bear to go back dressed almost like a beggar; and moreover
the journey would be expensive, and there was no one from whom she
could borrow the money, so that must be given up.
What then should be done? She pondered long, and at
last decided to apply personally at a place in London which she knew
well by reputation, a training-school, where she could go in, as she
thought, on a humble footing, and work her way till she had earned
what would buy her some decent clothes, and then go in for her
examination, and try to obtain a situation in which she could
maintain herself. She felt that her present delicate
appearance was against her, but that she thought would improve every
day. What she most objected to was her very shabby dress, and
her short hair (for her long dark locks had been cut off); and she
was sure the other young teachers with whom she would have to
associate would look so nicely, dressed with their well-made gowns,
neat bonnets, and glossy hair, that she should suffer heavily from a
sense of inferiority.
'But at all hazards,' thought Emily, 'no more dressmaking and
shop working for me. I have seen something of that, and I may
just as well expect to be made queen as to be taken into partnership
with one of my employers, or even to earn enough to maintain myself
It was something to have decided what course to pursue, and
this made her feel better and easier in her mind, though painful
visions haunted her of haughty looks from the young girls in the
training-school, and contemptuous withdrawings from her and her
dingy and threadbare gown.
The next day early she set off on her errand, making herself
as scrupulously neat as she could with what clothes she possessed,
and creeping slowly along, that she might feel tolerably fresh for
presenting herself before the committee whom she expected to see.
Mrs. Smart, who, dirty and slatternly still, had taken a
great liking to the friendless girl, walked with her for a mile, and
then, with many directions and encouragements, and a present of a
new penny roll, which she was to eat when she felt faint, left her
to pursue her way full of hope, though still weak and white-faced
'It will be the old story over again,' said the good woman,
'but she shall have a rare tea this day, even if I pay for it.'
So she stopped at a shop and bought two mackerel, and then a
Yorkshire cake for toasting; and home she went to the black beetles,
in whose lively company she did not miss Emily, though, to do her
justice, she sincerely wished her all success.
Emily would not be home before four o'clock, she felt sure,
so she ate some bread and cheese at twelve o'clock, and spread what
seemed to be a sumptuous board in the afternoon, broiled mackerel,
bread and butter and cake, and a lettuce.
Just as everything was ready, she saw Emily coming languidly
down the area-steps, and let her in, but said nothing to her.
Success was certainly not written on the poor pale face, and though
faint with hunger she scarcely showed any pleasure at the sight of
those appetizing viands. Not a word she said, but threw off
her bonnet, and sunk into a chair with a heavy sigh.
'Well, well, child,' said Mrs. Smart, taking failure for
granted, 'this is only the first day; you can try again to-morrow.'
But the only answer was:
'Oh, Mrs. Smart, I wish I had never seen this wretched
'Well, I'm sure!' replied Mrs. Smart, rather tartly, 'that's
mighty civil to me. You wish you'd never seen me, then; and
I've been the best of friends to you. There, come along, and
get some tea, and don't be down-hearted. I hate to see folks
downhearted; it makes me think o' my own troubles, and I've had a
many on 'em.'
Emily, thus admonished, drew her chair to the table, and
though Mrs. Smart seemed not to be in the best of humours, she
heaped her plate with substantial food till the poor girl felt her
strength revive, and her weary spirits begin to rise a little.
'So they won't have nothing to say to you, eh, child?' asked
the good woman.
'No: the gentleman at the first place I went to said, "Have
you been ill, young woman?" "Yes, sir," I said. "What's
been the matter a fever?" "Yes, sir." "What sort of
fever? nothing infectious, I hope." So I said, "I believe it
was low typhus." "Bless me," says he, "and only just getting
better! How could you think of coming among all these
candidates, and expect to teach in the school? It was
exceeding wrong of you, young woman, to come here;" and I assure you
they were in such a hurry to shut me out, that they would not allow
me time even to inquire how long it would be before I might come
again. Well, it was nearly the same thing at the next place I
went to, and at the last I do believe they took me for an impostor;
they looked me up and down, and then said they were sure I was not
strong enough for any sort of exertion; but one of the gentlemen
said he would give me a recommendation to the Consumption Hospital;
and when I said I was not at all consumptive, he says, "Well, well,
in two or three months, if you are better, you may come again."'
Emily made this long speech almost in a breath, as if she
knew she must give some account of herself, and wished to get it
done as soon as possible, and alluded no more to the painful
She went out the next day with the same result, and sat
drooping in the evening in a way that made the dirty housekeeper's
heart ache. Not a word was said to her, and after a restless
night she went and brought home some shop-work, and began to stitch
as fast as her then trembling hand would let her.
'What, child, going to try shop-work again?' said Mrs. Smart.
'I must live,' replied Emily. 'I am getting into debt
to you for my board already, and I've no chance of getting a
teacher's situation till I look more healthy, and my hair is longer.
Seeing it only an inch long, everybody that I apply to asks if I
have had a fever.'
Mrs. Smart replied in a liberal spirit, that the next time
Emily went out after a situation she would give a friend of hers,
who was a barber, a sixpence to lend her a wig with long ringlets.
And Emily thanked her, but inwardly resolved not to accept her
So the days wore on till the new tenant came in, and Mrs.
Smart hired a little room to live in, Emily going with her.
And now that she dwelt among the poor, Emily found herself not so
much cut off from sympathy as she had been hitherto, for a lady, who
was district visitor there, called on her, and when she found how
beautifully Emily could work, she got her some children's dresses to
make, for which she received very much better pay than she had
But Emily's recovery was very slow, and so much sedentary
occupation did not suit her, so that she was often ailing, and
therefore frequently received a visit from this new friend, who,
when Mrs. Smart was out at work, would sit and talk kindly to her,
and give her the best advice she could, considering how little she
knew of Emily's circumstances.
Like other persons who had been compelled to pawn good
clothing, Emily felt that the small sum she had received upon it was
nothing compared with its real value to herself, and she worked very
hard to get the interest paid on some of her most useful articles,
and, if possible, to get them once again before the year was over.
She felt that a tolerable appearance of health and some
decent clothes were absolutely needful, if she wished to be a
teacher, and with unremitting industry she worked, seldom having
more than enough time to fulfil what she undertook, partly owing to
the kindness of the lady visitor, and partly to her obliging and
civil manner and neat work.
At last, Christmas came round again, and Emily had been able
to get some of her possessions into her own keeping; she looked
stronger, and her hair was growing as quickly as could be expected;
moreover, she was beginning to talk more openly to her friend, the
district visitor; and when this lady found that she was denying
herself many little comforts, and every moment of leisure, for the
sake of taking the remainder of her clothing out of pawn, she one
day offered to lend her two sovereigns, saying, that this would save
her from having any further interest to pay, and that she might take
everything out of pawn, and pay back this sum at her convenience.
Emily was very grateful for this kindness, and agreed to pay
two shillings a week to her kind friend, till she had restored all.
The mere circumstance of being so trusted did her good, and revived
her spirits; and when she got back her comfortable clothes into her
own keeping, she could take more pleasure in her needle, for she had
now a character to maintain with her visitor; she had been trusted
as well as employed, and she resolved not to spend one day even in
looking after a teacher's situation, till she had paid back every
In all her distress and loss of health, Emily had never so
far forgotten her bringing up, and the excellent instruction she had
received, as to neglect attendance at church, or a due observance of
the Lord's day. She had, like John Mills, been tried as to
whether she would and could present herself in her working dress;
and perhaps at first it was the recollection that, even in his
native town and among those who knew him, he had not shrunk from
this plain duty, which nerved up Emily to do likewise. Like
him, she ventured forth shamefaced and forlorn; but like him, she
often came home refreshed and strengthened for her week-day task,
and she found a blessing where she had only gone as a duty. In
the days of her prosperity she had often been a careless worshipper,
and a little thing would make her attention wander; but now she
needed this weekly refreshment, this reminding of holy things, to
make her hard work easier, and lead her to think amid the turmoil of
the great city, that often seemed as if it would sweep her away and
swallow her up, of that heavenly city which hath foundations, whose
builder and maker is God.
From her childhood she had been accustomed to read a chapter
in the Bible before she retired to bed, but during her sojourn with
Mrs. Smart in the empty house, she had often reached home so late,
that her weary eyes were not fit for any further occupation, and if
she had gone through the task mechanically, it would have made no
impression on her mind.
Now, however, that she shared a little room with her old
friend, and did her work at home, she resumed her former habit, and
often read the chapter aloud to Mrs. Smart, after a return from the
day's Charing, that kind creature listening with due attention, and
evidently supposing that it was more Emily's duty than her own to be
religious and devout; because, as she observed―
'The girl has learning, and is to be a school-missis.'
But Mrs. Smart derived much benefit from Emily besides this
nightly reading, for Emily kept the room so clean and comfortable,
cooked her such a cosy little supper by the time she returned from
her charing or washing, and was so pleasant and good-tempered, that
Mrs. Smart thought she could do no less than yield to her persuasion
that she would come with her to church, so she put on her best
things one fine Sunday morning, and set off in good time to the free
seats, remarking that it was a highly respectable thing to go to
church, but not apparently aware that it was a necessary thing,
which could not be neglected with impunity by any who had
opportunity to attend.
WE must now leave
Emily Welland for a time, to follow the fortunes of her old friend
John Mills, whose prospects began to brighten at the same time that
hers became clouded.
John came up to London about the time that he mentioned in
his letter to Emily, and several times in the evening he came and
walked before the house where Mrs. Smalley had lived. He
observed that it was not tenanted. As Emily had told him that
she worked for a milliner who was quite as rich as her aunt had ever
been, the poor fellow had foolish visions of her present manner of
life that were very far indeed from the truth. He supposed
that all success had attended her, for she had not told him that it
was otherwise. He fancied her prettily dressed, and looking
handsomer than ever, engaged in the light and pleasant occupation of
trying on shawls and bonnets for beautiful ladies, and sometimes
getting a drive in the milliner's carriage.
'I only hope her head will not be turned,' thought honest
John, 'for what with the riches one sees on all hands, and what with
the succeeding so well as everybody seems to do, it is very
difficult not to grow covetous, and forget the world to come in the
prosperity and happiness of this.'
By that speech it will easily be seen that John was a
successful man, for as the unfortunate often learn to look at the
side which harmonizes most with their own circumstances, and observe
poverty, loss, and descent, so the successful see most the riches
and prosperity around them, and if they are rising in life they can
think of many who are doing the same.
John, as we have said, walked several times past the house
formerly occupied by Mrs. Smalley; because it was the only place in
London where he knew that she had been. She had not told him
the name of the milliner for whom she worked, but had allowed him to
address to her to the care of Mrs. Smart. He therefore had no
clue to her abode, and when the house was let he ceased to pass it,
and utterly lost sight of her, for she did not correspond with any
one in Dorsetshire, and he sometimes thought with pain that this
might be because she now felt ashamed of her old friends.
John stayed in London for a year, for the money he earned by
his carvings was enough to maintain his family, though he bestowed
so little time on them as to leave him abundant leisure for
improvement. He came back, as his mother phrased it, 'quite
the gentleman;' but by this the good woman did not mean that he held
himself high, for she distinctly declared to a neighbour that such
was not the case; but that his manners were improved by intercourse
with his superiors, and his language cleared from provincial
expressions, for John had not forgotten his old feeling, that a man
'who wanted to marry a schoolmistress' had need to take pains with
his learning; and though he had quite lost sight of Emily, and could
scarcely hope to see her again, much less obtain her for a wife, she
was still a spur to him, and having long wished to feel, he could
now begin to feel, that he was not unworthy of her.
Mr. Clements had been very kind to John; had given him
introductions to several artists, and had procured for him
first-rate instruction. The pupil proved more apt than the
master could have hoped, and was soon so much the fashion in the
circle of his patron, as to become independent of any help, and to
have more orders than he could execute.
But John had excellent sense: he had come to London to
improve himself, and improvement he would have even at the expense
of present profit: he therefore executed no more carving work than
sufficed to earn for his mother the customary weekly sum, and to
provide for himself a bare maintenance.
The time passed quickly with him, and might have passed
happily, but that he could not forget Emily, nor cease to long for
her society; but he supposed she was well off, and that this ought
to content him, and he came to his family cheerful and full of hope;
he had obtained what he wanted, and more; he had satisfied his
craving for instruction; he had seen some of the finest
wood-carvings in existence; he had decided that carving in wood and
not in stone was to be his art, and he had a reasonable expectation
that he should be able to earn an abundant and even handsome
And now there was no need to work in a chill shed and eat
coarse food; John hired a pretty house in a good garden, and removed
his parents to it. It was such a short distance from the old
cottage that he could see distinctly from his pleasant workroom the
gable end and the windows of Emily's former home, the little
casement where he had often seen her sitting at work, and the tall
white lilies which had been his models years before.
It was the time of the midsummer holidays when he returned
and placed his mother in her new abode, which the good woman
declared to be 'quite a paradise,' in fact, it had a parlour
within and a little orchard without, and if that did not constitute
her a proud and happy woman she wondered what would. So she
bustled about with a little servant whom her dutiful son had hired
for her; and considering the place to be far too good to be lived
in, she was for sitting in the parlour only on Sunday afternoons,
lest some harm should happen to the little square of Scotch carpet,
and the six cane chairs which stood by the walls.
John, however, made a decree that his father should sit in
the parlour every night during the warm weather, in his own
particular easy-chair, and play a game at chess with him, for that
was almost the only amusement the poor cripple could enjoy.
'After which,' said John, 'you will sit there, mother, and work, for
it looks comfortable, and is far cooler than the kitchen.'
To this the mother consented with secret pleasure, but
stipulated that the family should return to the kitchen to eat their
supper, and that the children should sit there to learn their tasks.
'If they want to look at their father and me sitting like
gentlefolks,' said the good woman, 'they may come outside and see us
through the window.'
Of this permission the Miss Mills frequently availed
themselves while there was any novelty in the sight; but people soon
grow accustomed to comfort, and Mrs. Mills learned before the cold
weather set in not only to see a fire in the grate, but even to
drink tea in the parlour and see her children sit there.
But nobody enjoyed the parlour so little as John did, John,
who had provided the small square of carpet which was reckoned such
a luxury, and the six cane chairs which looked so glossy and yellow.
John was sometimes in low spirits now; for though he strove to be
thankful and glad of the great change and happy ease of his present
life, a conversation that he had had with Miss Cooper soon after his
return weighed on his mind, and cost him many a restless hour.
Miss Cooper had called to see him, and had asked what he knew
'Nothing,' said John.
'I was afraid so,' answered Miss Cooper, sighing; 'poor
'Why poor?' asked John. 'I never doubted that she was
quite as well off as I am; she can hardly be better off.'
'No, no, Mr. Mills,' replied the schoolmistress; 'I know
Emily well, and I am quite sure that, if she was in good
circumstances, she would have written; why should she not write to
me that am her old friend? You may be sure she would have done
so and given us an address '
'Surely you don't think she is dead?' exclaimed John, turning
cold and sick at heart.
'Oh, no; I have no ground for such a thought,' said the
schoolmistress: 'but I say, unless there was some reason for it, she
'She said in her letter that she worked for a rich milliner,'
'And what is that? No more than working for a poor one,
as far as earnings are concerned, and I know that those must be
small. Unknown girls from the country do not get taken into
partnership or made confidential assistants, as Emily expected her
aunt to do for her. No, John, depend on it she has made the
best of matters to you, but I feel sure that if she was really
comfortable, she would have written to me and told me so, and asked
me to come and see her, for she knows that I have a sister there,
and that I have been talking of going up to stay with her, for a
But John, though this conversation made him uneasy, struggled
against the feeling, for it seemed to him unreasonable; he argued
with himself that Emily was very clever, and was therefore sure to
get on; she had excellent principles and would not do wrong; the
only real danger for him, he considered, was, lest she should marry
some other man before he had a chance of showing her what a
comfortable home and what a well-informed husband he could now give
her, if she would but change her mind and like him well enough to be
'John, I expect you'll soon be thinking of settling,' said
his mother, one day when he came home with a new American clock for
the best kitchen, 'but don't marry a dawdle, lad; take a good sprack
lass, whoever she be.'
'I shall never marry any but a Dorsetshire girl, mother,'
said John, who well knew that his mother was thinking of the gaily
dressed daughters of one of the drapers in the town, girls who
would never have thought of him in his former circumstances, but who
now were particularly civil to him, and to his mother and to his
'Well, lad,' said she, 'though I be not Dorsetshire myself, I
have no objections to thy having a liking to it and to a good Dorset
lass, only providing it be not Emily Welland thou sets thy heart
'And why not Emily Welland?' exclaimed John.
'Why not? because she will never like thee. John, it
vexes me to see that face in the carving shed; I know very well
whose face it is.'
'I carved that figure for my own pleasure,' replied John,
'and it has been a comfort to me. Why would you have me give
up my hope and my ambition, mother?'
'Ambition! why, lad, sure Emily Welland cannot hold her head
higher than thine now. Ambition indeed!'
'It has always been my ambition to be worthy of her,' said
John, calmly, 'and if I cannot forget her, what is the use of
talking about my settling, mother? Are you so very anxious
that I should settle?'
'No, lad; we've struggled through a good deal together; I've
been used to be the first, and I don't want to see another woman set
over my head that's the truth.'
'I knew that before you told me,' said John, smiling.
'Look here, mother; we shall know what time of day it is now to a
minute, and I've bought father a new waistcoat and you a tea-caddy.'
'He does not look as if things went well with him,' thought
the mother, as her son retired to his workshop. 'I've seen him
look cheerfuller when he had but a crust.'
John went to his workshop, and there worked hard, having
bravely resolved to look on the bright side of his circumstances.
He had everything in this life that he cared for, and more than he
could reasonably have hoped; but one thing was denied him the
knowledge of Emily's welfare. This he was not to have; and,
like a wise man, instead of indulging melancholy, and relaxing his
efforts to improve himself in consequence of this anxiety, he
resolved rather to redouble his exertions, not to allow himself one
idle moment, and to take for his special motto the text, 'Whatsoever
thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.'
With his might he carved, with his might he read and attended
lectures, during the week; with his might on Sunday he taught in the
Sunday school, attended divine service, listened to the sermon, and
strove to make a good use of the hours spent at home. So
passed a year fruitful in exertions, full of improvement and
success, and on the whole a very happy year, though still the memory
of that face to which his mother had alluded was dear to John, and
he did not wish to forget it.
He had carved a figure, as he said, for his own pleasure; and
in his workshop he had made a small recess, with a little door to
shut it in. Sometimes he would open the door and look at his
work; it was the best and finest he had ever done, and represented a
young girl stepping over fallen leaves; loose and light as feathers
they looked, owing to the carver's skill; and a shawl was drawn over
the head, which fell in simple folds down the youthful figure; the
face was Emily Welland's; but it was more as she looked when seated
at her work in the London garret than as John had known her in the
earlier days of her prosperity, for it had a gentle and thoughtful
expression that it then very seldom, though now it habitually wore.
It was drawing towards autumn; London was emptied of nearly
all who were rich enough to go out and enjoy the air and freshness
of the country; the parks were dusty and hot, the grass scorched,
the streets close, and the passers through them frequently looked
tired and languid. Even strong workmen wielded their tools
less actively than usual, and street-beggars plied their trade with
less alacrity and ready impertinence. The weather was too much
for them. Work was very slack with the needlewomen the ladies
were out of town; the dressmakers, no less gaily attired, had
followed in their wake, and there was nothing stirring. In a
quiet little square, however, the committee of a society for
promoting emigration was sitting; that is to say, three members were
sitting, the remaining nine being out of town.
To the committee-room of this society a well-dressed young
man was shown just as a young woman left it by another door.
'Mr. Mills, I believe?' said the chairman, and then, looking
at the new-comer, 'You come for information, I presume, not for help
from the society?'
'Oh, no,' said John Mills, for he it was; 'but I am taking my
family out to Sydney, and some men whom I now employ wish to go with
me; it is on their account that I want to make some inquiries, sir,
concerning this society.'
'You could give them regular employment there?' asked the
'Yes; I have taken a contract to supply all the carving
required for one of the new public buildings there. I want
workmen, but they cannot go without their families.'
Upon this followed an account from the chairman of the amount
of assistance given by the committee to deserving families, and the
care taken of their members especially of them during the somewhat
wearisome voyage. John listened with interest, but he had not
much time to spare, and was about to say that he thanked the
chairman, and would retire, as he had received the requisite
information, when one of the committee said in a careless tone to
the other, 'By the bye, that young woman might do for a teacher,
though too young to superintend the women. Did you tell her to
Some doubtful answer was made which did not reach John's
uninterested ears, and then a book was referred to for a name.
'Let me see,' said the chairman, turning over the leaves of a
book, 'applications accepted, Clara Hope, Ellen Smith; applications
declined, Emily Welland '
John had already risen to make his parting bow, the bell was
rung, and the door was opened, a person had already appeared to show
him out, when the name of the rejected applicant struck upon his
ear, and he stopped with a sudden start. Emily Welland!
It was not a common name, and John immediately asked to have it
repeated, and to be allowed to copy the address. These were
soon given to him, and as he stood soon after leaning against the
rails of a dusty square, and looking upon the scorched grass and
dingy trees within, his heart beat high with hope and wonder, for
this Emily Welland was the young woman whom he had seen leaving the
room as he had entered; her face had been turned from him, but,
excepting that Emily was the same height as she had appeared in the
cursory glance he had cast towards her, there was nothing in this
girl's appearance that even reminded him of her.
Neat, trim, fresh, and well dressed, with a light elastic
step, an erect figure, the real Emily rose before his imagination.
This young woman was certainly neat, but to his country eyes there
was a dingy look about the very plain bonnet, and an appearance of
poverty in the common black print gown and shabby shawl, which few
young maid-servants would have presented even in their everyday
costume. Yet the name was Emily Welland. It was worth
inquiring into, he thought, so he strolled out of the square and
called a cab, reading the address to the driver from the paper in
his hand, for John had plenty of money in his pocket, no need, and
indeed not time to spare, for walking now; the distance was four
miles, and he had some purchases to make on his way.
So he stopped at several shops, asking for things that no one
buys but emigrants, sun-bonnets for his mother and sisters, pegged
chessmen to be used at sea, and other things which took some time to
choose, but which did not divert his mind from the possibility that
he might after all be on his way to see the long-lost Emily.
At last the cab threaded several narrow and dingy streets,
with rags stuffed into broken panes, dirty Irish children lying on
the pavement in the shade, and dirty mothers squatted beside them
with backs to the wall.
John now laughed outright in the cab, and called himself a
foolish fellow for coming on such a wild-goose chase, as if the
delicate Emily lived in such a hole, he thought.
'She never went down a place like this in her life, I'll
engage,' he said to himself; 'however, on I'll go, and see for
myself that it is some other person of her name. There is
nothing like seeing, to drive foolish thoughts away.'
Presently the cab stopped. John found himself an object
of interest. A cab did not often visit the alley; and two
pale-faced children were looking in at the open windows and making
their remarks to each other respecting his dress and appearance.
'That's the court you want, sir,' said the cabman, pointing
down a still narrower alley.
John told him to wait, and not without some trepidation went
down it, and looked for the number upon his address. There
stood the house; it was three stories high, and the room he was to
find Emily Welland in was the three-pair back.
He mounted the stairs, and knocked at the door in question,
then tried it, and found it locked; but a young woman with work in
her hand looked out from the front room, and said her neighbour was
'What is your neighbour's name?' asked John.'
'Welland,' was the reply. 'There was an old lady named
Smart, that used to live with her, but she's just dead.'
'I wanted to see Emily Welland,' said John.
The woman took a key, opened the locked door, and John walked
in eagerly, and began to look about him with an attention which
appeared to surprise her. Not a trace could he find; not a
book, nor a box, nor even an article of any kind, which he
remembered as having belonged to the pupil-teacher, was to be seen.
The little room was clean, but bare in the extreme: a bed, two or
three chairs, a table with work upon it, and a box, were all it
contained, excepting the smallest of corner-cupboards, the door of
which stood open. John walked up to it, and looked in at the
few cups and plates, the morsel of butter, the small piece of bread,
and the tiny tea-caddy.
This scrutiny seemed to alarm the woman. Perhaps she
thought he was a policeman in plain clothes, for she coloured, and
remarked nervously, that all the people in the house were very
respectable, and that Emily Welland had never been in trouble.
'What is Emily Welland's occupation?' asked John.
'She takes in needlework,' said the neighbour. 'What
did you please to want with her, sir?'
John felt that this was a natural question, but he hardly
knew how to answer it, especially as a decent-looking woman,
evidently fresh from the wash-tub, stood wiping her arms just
outside the open door, and two girls were peeping at him from the
'I merely wished to speak to her.'
'Gentleman says he merely wished to speak to Emily,' shouted
the neighbour in the ear of the washerwoman, who was deaf.
The washerwoman, in that peculiarly internal voice often used
by the deaf, replied that if the gentleman had any work for her, he
had better leave a message; and this reply was repeated to him by
the other neighbour, who told him at the same time that Mrs. Brian
was a very respectable woman, and washed for Mrs. Green in the
'I have no doubt she is very respectable,' replied John,
repeating their favourite word, and as he spoke he was conscious of
a gentle step coming softly upstairs.
He heard it even while the neighbour shouted this
complimentary sentence into the deaf washerwoman's ear, and he felt
that it was close to the door.
'There's a gentleman wants to speak to you,' said one of the
John's eyes were on the ground; he felt so ashamed of having
tracked out one who might have had great reason for wishing to
remain unknown, that for an instant, though he saw the skirts of the
shabby black gown, he could not raise them to see the person who
stood before him.
'John,' said Emily, in a quiet voice.
'Yes, Emily,' replied John, with his old humility, 'I beg
your pardon if I intrude.'
'No, you don't intrude, John,' said Emily; but after glancing
at him, she looked round the bare room and at the poverty-stricken
neighbours, and reddened as she had hardly done since she left
She then took the door-handle in her hand, and the neighbour
somewhat reluctantly withdrawing, she closed the door, and she and
John looked each other in the face for the first time.
Emily saw a well-dressed young man, strong, healthful, and
with an intelligent expression; prosperity appeared in his
independent bearing, his manners were improved, his appearance even
justified the epithet that those women had bestowed on him of 'the
And John saw a quiet, gentle-looking creature, with a pale
cheek and a thin hand, privation written on every line of the
subdued and somewhat sickly face, which was still pretty, though in
all but mere features greatly changed.
'I have had a great many troubles since I saw you last,' said
John shook back his curly hair, and felt as if the words he
wanted to say were choking him, but at length he muttered, that for
his part he had had many blessings, and no trouble at all worth
mentioning, excepting the not having been able to find out anything
'I had got nearly clear of my difficulties,' said Emily, 'and
was hoping to get a teacher's situation, when my good friend that I
lived with fell ill, and wanted so much nursing and doctoring, that
I had to part with almost all I had on her account, and give up my
thought of teaching.'
Emily began this speech very bravely, but when she got so
far, she shed a few tears, and stopped to wipe them away before she
'There is nothing now to prevent my taking up teaching again.
I have been to look after a situation to-day, and I hope I shall get
one in time.'
John had not a word to say; it was evident that Emily did not
intend to allow him to condole with her; but he was determined not
to go, so he boldly sat down, and Emily set her bread and butter on
the table, and remarking that a neighbour of hers would lend her
some boiling water, took away her teapot and left him for a minute
or two alone.
When she came back she cut up the bread; they drank some tea;
and Emily was drawn on gradually to tell of her past troubles, and
the three years she had lost out of her life, and John to tell of
his intended voyage, the growth of his sisters, and his father's
notion that the voyage would be the making of him, and be the means,
most likely, of restoring his crippled hand. At last, when tea
was over, Emily remarked that she had some work to do, and
irresistible curiosity bringing in the deaf neighbour, John felt
compelled to go, but he had told her that he should come again and
see her, and to bring her a book that had been her grandmother's,
which he had bought of her uncle, because he had seen her read in it
when he was a child.
And now Emily was left alone, and as she sat at work silent
tears stole down her face. The contrast between herself and
John was painful to her in the extreme; but she was not the same
Emily in mind and thought who had been so ambitious and self-seeking
as she sat in her grandmother's pleasant cottage. Sorrow and
privation had, with the blessing of God, made her see, not only her
mistake, her too great desire for ease and for a higher station, but
had opened her eyes to the state of mind under which she had
cherished ambitious hopes and present discontent.
The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the
strong; this she felt had been proved in her case. She had
received swiftness for the race of life, but she had been
vain-glorious, had stumbled, and now the person in whose way had
been placed so many impediments had outstripped her, and shown her
that all her advantages, all her favourable circumstances, all her
intelligence, could not weigh again the blessing of Providence upon
the simple performance of humble every-day duties.
Nearly three years of her young life, as she thought, had
been lost utterly, lost as far as advancement and usefulness went;
for with the help of her kind friend the district-visitor, she had
scarcely got back her clothes from the pawn-shop, when Mrs. Smart
fell ill, and she felt that she could do no less than return the
kindness this good woman had shown to herself. It was not a
case for an hospital, nor could she leave her for the day to teach,
and after a few bitter struggles with herself, principle got the
upper hand, and she resolved, whatever might be the disadvantage to
herself, to remain with her first friend in the dreary waste of
London, and return her the goodwill and kindness she had shown to
her in her trouble. It was no easy task that she had taken on
herself. The illness was soon declared incurable, and, one by
one, almost everything the poor woman possessed went to the old
resort; there was no other means of procuring her food or medicine.
Emily's possessions, so lately redeemed, followed once more, for her
needlework done at home was not sufficient to maintain them, even
with the help of parish relief and charity.
By slow degrees the lamp of life burnt low, and now Emily
derived a blessing in her turn from the poor woman, whom she had by
gentle urgency and kindness persuaded to attend to those things
which belonged to her peace. Now she saw a patience under
suffering which made her own task in waiting and working easy to
her; now she received such gratitude and affection as made her mind
turn gratefully to that Redeemer who had done so much more for her
than she could hope to do for her fellow-mortal. At last the
sufferer died, blessing and thanking her; and Emily, when she
returned from the funeral to her empty room, thanked God that she
had been enabled to be of use, and turned her thoughts again to her
first calling. She was now free to teach, if she could meet
with a situation; and being told of the society where John had heard
her name, she applied for a free voyage to Australia, on condition
of teaching the young female emigrants, and keeping order amongst
them on board ship. She was thought too young, but hope was
given her of a passage, not as a teacher, but as taught; she might
go as one of the young people, if she liked; but she must be under
the matron, and conform to the regulations in all respects.
Emily blushed deeply on hearing this, and asked for time to
consider; but, as she walked home, her quiet and now truly humble
mind revolved the matter. There was a situation as teacher to
a ragged-school that she believed she could have at once, if she
applied for it; but if it should fail her, she thought she would go
to Australia under the discipline of the matron spoken of. And
thus she began life under fairer auspices, and with every reasonable
hope of success.
She looked about her little bare room and thought to herself,
with keen annoyance, that she could have wished her old friend had
not seen her in her poverty and degradation; this one painful
circumstance had hitherto been spared her, for none of her former
acquaintances had found her out, but to-day the one whose good
opinion she most cared for, had, as she thought, looked on her as
being now far more below him than he had ever been, in her opinion,
Perhaps, if she could have heard John's own account of the
matter, she would have been consoled, for when his mother remarked
to him the next day that he seemed to be in very good spirits, he
gave her as a reason that he had met with Emily Welland's address,
and had been to see her. His mother, who was packing a box,
looked very grave on hearing this, and said, 'Lad, don't deceive
thyself with any false hopes.'
John made no reply, and his mother added, 'She was always
proud. And how did she receive thee, my lad? How did she
'She looked pretty,' said John. 'I don't know that she
is quite as blooming as she was, but for all that she is very much
improved wonderfully improved.'
'Ah,' cried the mother, shaking her head, 'improved that's
to be expected; London ways improve thee, and they would her.
But she's out of thy reach, lad, with her silks and her flowers.
Thou must not be so ambitious. Improved, is she? Well,
is she in partnership with the grand lady she worked with?'
'No, mother, I am sure she is not,' answered John; 'and when
I said she was improved, I did not mean in such things as her dress
or her manners. I meant that she looked so gentle so just
what a woman should look. I am sure, if you could see her now,
you would not say that she was proud.'
The mother shook her head and went on with her packing, which
absorbed her attention, and she soon began to talk of the 'Black
Ball' line of packets in which they were all to sail, of the
comfortable new outfits, and of her husband's joy in the prospect of
the sea voyage.
John would have liked to tell her of Emily Welland's
circumstances; but seeing her so much interested in other matters,
he stood by her silently reflecting on those words of Holy Writ: 'He
putteth down one and setteth up another.'
'I hope, mother, we shall not forget in our prosperity the
good God who helped us in our distress,' he said at last.
'No, lad,' replied the mother, and presently said, 'I'm not
proud, I'm only thankful.'
'Mother, have you forgotten Emily?' asked John.
'No, lad,' she answered. 'Art going to see her again?'
'Yes,' said John; 'and I shall ask her to marry me.
Wish me success, mother.'
Upon this the good woman looked up, and rose from her box.
'Wish thee success, lad! ay, to be sure; but I don't expect
she will marry thee. I thought as thou had sold the figure
thou had forgotten her.'
'No, mother; but when I came to reflect that I had been
offered thirty pounds for that figure, and that there was no fear of
my forgetting the form of Emily, I felt that it was a sin to keep it
by me, for that thirty pounds would enable three families to come
out to us, for the society I told you of only asks ten pounds, and
will provide all the rest. What had I done, mother, to help
others in token that I was grateful to God who has helped me? Why,
nothing, and I had no money to spare, when all we required was
bought indeed, I had nothing but that; so I just touched the face
a little to take away the likeness, and parted with it.'
John's mother on hearing this wished him success again, and
off he went, leaving her to the occupation that she thought so
delightful that of folding, sorting, and packing an abundance of
good neat clothing for herself, her husband, and her children.
Sometimes during the afternoon she thought of John, but oftener of
the outfits, though she did heartily wish him success, for Emily
Welland was the wife whom she had always wished he might have.
At last, when it had become quite dusk, and she had had her
supper, and retired again to the little bedroom of the lodging, and
was wondering whether she could pack any longer without a candle,
she heard her son's step as he came slowly up the stairs, and when
he entered, without saying a word, she felt sure that he had been
disappointed, and said to him, with motherly affection
'Well, lad, there's more than one good lass in the world,
'Yes, thank God for that, mother,' replied John; 'but I'll
thank Him first for giving me the one I asked for.'
'What!' exclaimed the mother, really surprised and pleased,
'did she take thee, after all, and not say, as I thought she would,
that thou was too ambitious, lad?'
'No, mother, said John; 'but we have been talking about being
ambitious, and Emily says she is sure there must be two kinds, and
that hers was the wrong one, so she sent her love to you, mother,
and I was to tell you that she knew you had often thought her
ambitious, and so she has been: she has been always wishing, she
says, to rise and do a higher kind of work, instead of doing her own
work in the highest and best way.'
'Ah,' said the mother, 'that last is thy kind, lad.'
'I wish it to be,' said John; 'so, mother, I must try to take
that ambition with me, as Emily will to leave her ambition behind.'
S. Cowan & Co., General Printers, Perth.