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EMILY'S AMBITION.

CHAPTER I.


EMILY WELLAND was an orphan, the child of poor but very respectable parents, who had died when she was too young to feel their loss, and had left her to the care of her grandmother.

    Few young people of her age and rank in life are better instructed than Emily was, for she had been educated at Aylsham school under a certificated mistress, who was a superior woman and respected by all.  She was apprenticed as a 'pupil teacher,' at fourteen years of age, and deemed to have a more than ordinary chance of doing well and getting on, for she was clever, and what is called 'sprack' in the part of the country where she lived.

    Emily lived with her grandmother in a cottage just outside the small town.  It was a comfortable cottage with a garden in front, where the old woman grew a few potatoes and cabbages.  The thatch was green with lumps of moss as soft as velvet, and there was a flower-bed in front which all the summer was gay with stocks, and wall-flowers, and flowering myrtles, besides low-growing plants, such as double primroses and red daisies.

    On pleasant evenings Emily would often spend an hour in weeding and watering the flower-beds; and very contented and cheerful she generally seemed at her work: no one, to look at her pretty face, would have guessed how little contentment she really felt, and how many things there were in her lot that she wished she could alter.

    There was a Mechanics' Institute at the little town the subscription was five shillings a year, and for that sum subscribers might take out more books than it was easy to read, and some of them were not very well suited for the reading of the industrious classes.

    Emily subscribed to the Institute, and used to bring the books home to read: stories, travels, poetry, history, nothing seemed to come amiss to her: but she liked the stories best, though she sometimes said she had a great mind to read no more of them, for they were all about ladies and gentlemen, and made keeping school and keeping shop, and that kind of thing, seem common and vulgar work.

    Emily had a friend who served in a fancy shop in the little town, and the two girls would often meet at dusk, sit on the bench just outside the cottage, talk about their favourite characters in books, and describe to each other the sort of people they should like to be if they could change their station.  Sometimes they would say they wished they had been born ladies, for they were sure they were more fit for ladies' work than for their own.  Indeed they wished they could become ladies at once, nothing but money being wanted to make them such; but, if the old grandmother was present, she would laugh at them in rather a mortifying way, and say in her broad Dorset dialect:

    'Go along, Mary Best! don't talk to I.  If thou was dressed up as fine as the Queen, thou couldn't play the lady without being found out.'

    When things of this kind were said, Mary Best generally took her leave, not without a toss of the head that in a lady would have been highly unbecoming, and that was vulgar and uncivil in a shop-girl.

    Though Emily liked to talk nonsense with Mary Best, and wish herself in a higher station, she did not neglect to prepare herself for what was likely to be her own; she expected to be a schoolmistress, and she worked hard to qualify herself to be a good one.  A certificate is not an easy thing to be got in these days, for the examinations are very strict: but Emily was bent on having one of the first-class, and being both industrious and clever, it seemed likely she would succeed.

    She was within six months of being out of her apprenticeship, and was hard at work preparing to go up to Salisbury to the Diocesan examination there, when one evening a neighbour came in and brought the news that a certain Mrs. Smalley had arrived in the town, and was stopping at the 'White Hart.'

    'Your own niece, Mrs. Welland,' observed the neighbour; 'and they do say that she drove up in a fly, with a Leghorn bonnet and feathers, quite the lady.'

    'My own niece,' repeated Emily's grandmother; 'I wonder whether she will come and see her old aunt?'

    'She can easy find your place if she wants to see you,' observed the neighbour; 'for you are not like a many, always changing it.'

    'I've kept myself respectable,' said the old woman, 'and never come upon the parish; so be she lady, or be she not, she may come and see I.'

    'They do say she is very good to the poor,' remarked her friend.

    'We are not poor,' interrupted Emily, as red as a rose, 'at least not poor enough to want anything from Mrs. Smalley.'

    'Poor child,' replied the neighbour, 'I can tell you what you are poor enough to want of her!  I wish I was as near to her as you are, and I would speak up at once for my Mary Anne.'

    'So they do say she looked quite the lady,' said the grandmother.  'What changes there be in this world!  Letty a lady, money in her pocket, and drives up to the best inn in the town.'

    'Yes, you may well be proud,' replied the neighbour; 'but I suppose you won't call her Letty now.  A first-rate London milliner, and has ladies of title in her show-rooms, and makes hundreds of pounds; but what do you think she is come here for, Mrs. Welland?'

    'Not to see her own folk, I'll be bound,' replied the grandmother, with a shrewd smile.

    'Why, no; but it is to show a respect to the family, too.  I was waiting at the Vicarage door to know whether they wanted any fowls; I had sold all but my last pair, and while the boy was gone into the parlour to ask whether Madam had a mind to them, who should come up but Tom Trott, that is ostler at the White Hart: he had brought a parcel that had just come by the coach, so I asked him if he knew what Mrs. Smalley had come to the town for.  "No less," says he, "as I hear, than to have a headstone put up to the memory of old Letty Welland."'

    'Bless us!' cried the grandmother; 'well, she might have done more for her mother while the poor soul was living; but this is a mighty respect for all that.'

    'So I say,' observed the neighbour.  'It shows she is no ways ashamed of your poor sister.  Doesn't it, Emily?'

    'I don't know,' said Emily; 'perhaps she does it out of respect to herself.'

    'That was all I heard,' added the neighbour.  'They bought the fowls, and paid two-and-ninepence for them.  Well, good-night, Mrs. Welland, and Emily.  I must go home, I am late already.'

    Emily went to bed that night full of thought.  This relative whom she had never expected to see, had often been talked of by her grandmother as having acquired money enough to live in luxury, and wear clothes as fine as any she made.  'And what will my calling do for me?' thought the pupil teacher;  'perhaps if I get a first-class certificate and prove as good a mistress as Miss Cooper, I may get in the end a house to live in, and eighty pounds a year in all.  That is too much to expect, but still it is not impossible.  For that I shall have to work very hard, and what shall I be? why, nothing but a teacher of poor folk's children, and what a common vulgar sort of trade that seems!  How hard it is that I should have to learn so much to gain so little, while Mrs. Smalley can make her hundreds, by just fitting a bonnet well, and snipping up silk into becoming trimmings.'

    It so happened, fortunately as Emily thought, because it gave her a chance of seeing Mrs. Smalley — it so happened that the next day was a whole holiday at the school, and when Emily came out at the cottage door, and stood in the shade at seven o'clock the next morning, and knew that she had nothing to do all day but to rest and enjoy herself, she felt what a pleasure it was to be free.

    Emily had dressed herself in a clean lilac and white print gown, and had fastened up her hair more neatly than usual, half hoping that her cousin might come and see her and her grandmother.  It was the middle of July, and the heat of the night had caused many of the flowers to shed their leaves.  The little path was strewed with red and white rose-leaves.  Emily picked them up, and then got a duster and polished the little casement-window and made everything about the cottage look tidy and respectable.  Then she went in and had her breakfast with her grandmother, after which the old woman went out upon her usual market-day expedition, which was to sell cream cheeses for the wife of a neighbouring farmer.

    Emily being now left alone took up her plain work and sat close to the pleasant little casement, enjoying the scent of the rosemary and the sweet-briar; she half hoped that Mrs. Smalley would call, and yet, when about ten o'clock she heard the sound of a step on the path, she felt so shy that she could not look up.

    However, she need not have minded, — the gown that now brushed against the lilies in the narrow path was not a silk one, and the voice that spoke in the open door-way was not a strange one.

    'Ellie, is Ellie at home?' asked Miss Cooper, the mistress.

    'O yes, Miss Cooper, I am here, ma'am,' said Emily; 'pray come in.'

    'How pleasant and quiet it seems here,' replied the schoolmistress.  'Child, you are highly favoured to have such a peaceable home. — Well, I thought I would come and have a chat with you, Ellie, on my way to see poor Sally Eaton.'

    'Is her little girl dead?' asked Emily.

    'Yes, the mother sent me word of her death last night, and asked me to come and see her.'

    'She was a good little thing,' said Emily, 'and improved wonderfully when she had been at school a little while.  She was not like the same child.'

    'So her mother said yesterday.'

    'She is a grateful woman,' replied Emily, 'not like Polly Gay's mother, for when you sent me to ask her to be more particular to send the child in good time, and I said it was a shame she should be so careless about the child's learning, when you took such pains with it, she answered, that there was nothing to be thankful for, seeing you were paid for teaching the child.'

    'Yes, to be sure,' said the mistress, 'money will make us work, but money will not make us give our hearts to the work nothing but love for the work, or real good principle, can make us do that.  So there was something for her to be thankful for, poor soul, if she had but known it.'

    'I can't bear to hear them say we teach because we are paid,' said Emily, vehemently.'

    'Why, child,' answered the mistress, smiling, 'you would not teach, would you, if you were not paid?'

    'No, ma'am, of course not.  I could not afford to teach for nothing.'

    'Well, but if you could afford it—'

    'Oh,' interrupted Emily, 'if I could afford it, ma'am, I should be a lady, and then of course I should not teach in the way I do now.  I should not drudge myself, in a school, but I daresay I should be just as charitable as Lady S. and Lady G. and the great ladies that one hears of.  I should pay somebody to teach for me.'

    'Bless you, child,' exclaimed the mistress, 'surely you don't think that would be the same thing.'

    'It would do as much good to the children as if I taught them myself,' said Emily, 'and it would be a vast deal pleasanter.  I should get a great deal of praise, too, instead of being told that I was only doing my duty because folks paid me.'

    'Well, but Ellie, we can do all our duties in a selfish or in a self-denying way.'

    'Yes,' replied Emily, 'but it does not count for self-denial, ma'am: I mean, it does not count in the opinion of other folks.  Nobody would say that you spent your life in doing good, because, you see, you are paid.'

    'Well, child, and is it not the will of God that we should earn our bread — and haven't we a right to be paid?'

    'Yes,' said Emily, sighing, 'though, rather than be a poor teacher in a school, I should like to have been a lady, and then the good I did would have been in such a far pleasanter way, and no trouble worth mentioning.  What are you laughing at, ma'am?'

    'Well,' said the worthy mistress, 'I ought to be ashamed of myself to laugh; for to fret at the decree of God that we shall not be ladies but working-women, is not a light fault, and, Ellie, you should try to get grace to be contented.  But child, I laughed at your notion of doing good.  Do you think I would change with such ladies as you speak of?  Haven't I kept school twenty-five years and taught twelve hundred children to read right well, and write pretty well, and know their duty to God and to other folks?  Not but what it was my duty; of course it was my duty, and I have earned my bread by it.  But child, only think what an honour and an advantage it is to us, and such as us, that we can't earn our bread without scattering blessings wherever we go.  Why, it might have been the will of Providence that we should live by making artificial flowers, or beads to trim dresses with, or sugar-plums for little spoiled pets of children to make their pretty teeth ache with.  We should earn our money just the same then; but what should we give for it, compared with what we have the blessing of giving now?  Why, nothing at all.  Six months after death a few faded cambric roses would be what was left of our work in this world; our work, I mean, that we got our bread by: but your work and mine, Ellie? — I don't expect that to perish altogether.'

    'I never thought of that,' said Emily, thoughtfully.

    'Child,' replied the mistress, 'do not think that I am boastful of my calling, just because I follow it.  I am grateful certainly that I have such a good one but the greater the work the more the shortcomings show.'

    'It was very good of you to come and see me, ma'am,' said Emily, for her guest had risen and showed signs of intending to leave.

    'Will you give me a sprig of rosemary, and a handful of roses to put in the little one's coffin!' said the mistress.

    'Surely, ma'am,' Emily answered, and she came out and gathered some of her sweetest flowers.  After following Miss Cooper with her eyes till she disappeared, she returned to her work with a sensation of greater respect for her than she had ever felt before.  'I am glad,' she thought, 'that I did not tell her what a mind I had to see if Mrs. Smalley would teach me dressmaking; and how I disliked the notion of teaching, because it seemed so low!  Why, she would only have said as she did to Amy Price, "Low, child! — wait a year or two before you presume to give an opinion; it is too high above you to judge of it at present."  'However,' thought Ellie, 'I am not at all sure that I shall keep to teaching, if I have a chance of finding some better employment.'

    At one o'clock Emily had some dinner, and sat quietly at work till half-past four, when the grandmother came in hot and tired and ready for her tea; so Emily set out the little deal table with the tea-things, the loaf and butter, and a small piece of cold bacon.  Her grandmother put her basket on a chair, took off her bonnet, and they sat down to enjoy their meal.  Another step on the narrow path, and a great deal of rustling, and then a tap on the open door, and when they turned, a stout lady, all silks and gauzes and laces and feathers stood there, and asked, 'Is this Mrs. Welland's house?'

    'Yes, ma'am,' said Emily, walking to the door, 'will you come in?'

    Her grandmother had, in the meantime, brushed the crumbs from her lap with her hard honest hands, and turning half round in her chair was looking at her gaily dressed visitor.

    'I suppose you don't remember me,' said the grand lady, in rather a condescending manner.  'My name is Mrs. Smalley.'

    'Yes, ma'am,' said Emily's grandmother, 'so I suppose, and I take it kind—'

    'And this is your granddaughter, I see,' observed the lady, sinking into a chair.  'Well, I'm sure! a very pretty young person she is too.  Your garden smells very sweet after London, aunt.'

    The fine lady said this word in rather a low voice, but it gave satisfaction; and when in a tone of great condescension she said she would take a cup of tea with them, the grandmother felt more at her ease, and began to answer her questions and take her meal with tolerable comfort.

    'She is a very genteel-looking, pretty young person,' repeated Mrs. Smalley, staring at Emily, and talking of her as composedly as if she had not been present, 'and she would look very well in my show-room.'

    Emily blushed deeply at this remark, but Mrs. Smalley did not continue the subject, presently saying that she had come to the town partly with a view of putting up a monument to the memory of her mother; and that she had called on the Vicar, and asked to be shown her mother's grave, but that he did not remember which it was.

    'My aunt was not buried in Aylsham churchyard,' said Emily.

    'So I found,' replied the milliner; 'I got the Rev. Mr. Ward to look into the book, and my poor mother's name was not in it.'

    'She was buried in D— churchyard,' proceeded Emily, 'and I remember the place quite well, for grandmother and I followed her to the grave.  If you remember D— church, ma'am, you will know that it is but a short walk from this.  You can see the spire peeping over the wood at the back of our cottage.'

    'I should wish to see the grave,' replied Mrs. Smalley.  'My feelings would be gratified by knowing the place where my poor mother lies, and my notion is, that a child ought to honour a parent, in death as well as in life, though — ahem, — though the parent may have been in an inferior station.'

    'Surely,' replied Emily, a little shocked.

    'Therefore,' proceeded Mrs. Smalley, 'I shall go myself to see the grave, for as I said to the Vicar this morning, "Sir!" I said, "there is no disgrace in being connected with the lower orders, provided the individuals know how to conduct themselves respectably, for in the sight of our Maker they and I are all equal."  I shall be glad of your services to show me the way to D— church, Emily Welland.'

    'Yes, ma'am,' replied Emily, but the respect with which she had at first regarded their richly dressed and self-sufficient visitor was rapidly melting away, and it vexed her to observe that her grandmother sat perfectly silent, and seemed unable to look Mrs. Smalley in the face.  The good old woman was in fact in a perplexed and troubled state of mind, for it naturally seemed to her curious that her poor sister should have been allowed during her life to receive parish pay, and should now be honoured with a monument.  However, she had not much time for these speculations, for Emily at Mrs. Smalley's request put on her bonnet to walk with her to D—church.  The niece took an affable leave of her worthy aunt, who gave her a sovereign which she desired her to spend in buying a new shawl as a remembrance of this visit.

    Mrs. Smalley had begun life as a lady's-maid.  Her mistress being a great invalid had interested herself, and employed some of her leisure in teaching her, and making her read aloud to her.  After some years the butler and maid married, and then the same good friend had helped her favourite to set up business as a dressmaker, by which she had now become rich and prosperous.

    The young pupil teacher walked across the fields with her, listening to her discourse, every sentence of which showed that she had money and lived in luxury.  At last Emily ventured to ask her whether she wanted a young person as an upper assistant in her business — she mentioned that she understood book-keeping, and was also handy at her needle, and should like much to learn dressmaking.

    To her delight Mrs. Smalley replied that if she wished to learn she might enter her house on the same footing as the other young persons, provided she did not mention her relationship to herself, nor presume upon it.  'As to anything higher,' continued Mrs. Smalley, 'that might possibly be in time, if you gave satisfaction, Emily Welland.'

    'I could not come till next January or February, ma'am,' said Emily, 'but if I can manage it then, will you receive me?'

    'Certainly,' was the reply.  'I am pleased with your appearance, and with what I heard of you this morning from the Vicar; and I have no objection to say that I will befriend you so far.'

    'If grandmother has no objection,' Emily now put in, but she inwardly resolved that she would not tell her grandmother of the plan till her apprenticeship was over.

    The grave of the old mother was found.  It was a green mound lying in the evening sunshine near a fine yew-tree; and Emily having pointed it out, made her curtsey and took her leave, going home to her grandmother's cottage full of thoughts about London and of 'bettering herself' and rising in the world, but not quite sure that she had done right, 'though, to be sure,' she thought, 'I need not go to Mrs. Smalley in January unless I please; if everybody is against it, I have made no promise, I can keep school after all.  I wonder what John Mills would think, if he knew that I was thinking of going to London.'


 
CHAPTER II.


IN a cottage very near Emily, John Mills lived with his father and mother and three little sisters.  His father was a stone-cutter, and John had been brought up to the same trade, but he had taught himself also to cut in wood, and had carved a beautiful little model of a monument, which he had given to the Vicar of A., who had befriended him.

    The consequence was that when Mrs. Smalley consulted the Vicar as to who she should employ to make her sister's monument, he named John Mills, saying that he was a very young man, but one who had great talent, and would take more than common pains.  At the same time he showed her the model, together with some drawings which had been made by Mills, and Mrs. Smalley admired them so much that she resolved to employ him.

    Now John Mills had not had so many advantages of education as Emily, but she had without knowing it been of great use to him, for from his earliest youth he had wished for nothing so much as to obtain her for a wife.  And though she did not seem at present to return his regard, and he felt that he had little reasonable hope of succeeding, he yet continued to make the best use of every opportunity for improving himself in order that he might as he thought, be more worthy of her. But John, modest as he was, and humble in his thoughts of himself, was actuated by higher principle than that which governed Emily.  Emily thought first of advancing herself, and secondly of her duty; John thought first of his duty, and did it, and secondly, he strove to advance himself, both in knowledge and in his calling.

    John had early shown such a taste for carving, that a gentlemen in the neighbourhood who had seen his work proposed to place him with a sculptor in London, and also to have him taught to draw.  But when the boy, who at first was delighted at the prospect, found that for a long time he should be maintained at his benefactor's expense and earn nothing, he shrank back and decided to stay with his parents, whom he could help by his weekly earnings.  His father, though a clever workman, was often laid up with rheumatic gout in the hands, and could earn nothing during the winter months and John rightly thought he ought not to go away even for the sake of improving himself, if he should thereby put it out of his power to help to maintain his parents, and put his little sisters to school.

    'It would only be for five years,' said his patron, 'and at the end of that time, John, you would doubtless be able to earn very excellent wages indeed.'

    'Only you see, sir,' replied the boy respectfully, 'I might not live to the end of the five years, and then what would father and mother do?''

    'Well, well,' said the patron, 'I have offered to help you, and in the end no doubt it would be to the advantage of your parents, but if they cannot spare you, I have no more to say.'

    'I shall be very thankful to go,' replied the boy, with tears in his eyes, 'please God my father's hands get better.'

    But his father's hands did not get better, and John worked on from year to year.  Yet though he could not have the advantage of good instruction, he did not, as many would have done, content himself with entire ignorance; on the contrary, he studied all the books which threw any light on his art that he could procure from the Mechanic's Institute or borrow from those who befriended him.  He also read and did all he could to improve his mind, but he had very little time, and he sometimes felt that if it had not been for the fear lest Emily Welland should think him an ignorant fellow, he must have given up striving, for it was dry work, with no one to direct him or share in his labour.

    The Vicar was his kindest friend, and when he had spoken to Mrs. Smalley, and induced her to employ him, he walked out to the cottage where John Mills lived to tell him of it.

    The young man was at his wood-carving in a small workshop or shed that he had made for himself at the side of his father's cottage.  It was a pleasant place overhung by two apple-trees, into one of which a clematis plant had climbed, and a white passionflower.

    'Ah, John,' said the clergyman, 'I see where you got the copy for that screen that you carved for Lady G—; here are the very leaves hanging down before your shed that you have wreathed round it.'

    'Yes, sir,' said John, 'and the lilies came out of Mrs. Welland's garden.'

    The business that the Vicar had come about was then mentioned, and very glad was the industrious young man to undertake it; but his friend noticed that he seemed tired and looked overworked, and he said to him before taking his leave, 'I am afraid you work too long at a time, John, and your father tells me you sit up at night to cipher and read.'

    'Ah,' said John, 'but a young fellow had need work hard with his learning, sir, if he wants to marry a schoolmistress.'

    'Oh that's it, is it?' replied the Vicar, kindly.

    'But she,' proceeded John, 'she keeps so far ahead of me, that I reckon I have very little chance; as fast as I learn one thing, I find she knows another.'

    'And yet you do contrive to improve yourself, John; and there are your wood carvings, too; you should show them to Emily Welland, man: if she excels in one thing, you do in another.'

    The young man smiled.  'I have shown 'em to her, sometimes, sir,' he replied; 'but she calls carving "whittling."'

    'Well, well,' answered the clergyman, smiling in his turn, 'but that is for want of knowing better, John, and the best wives are often not easily obtained: Emily Welland is a very superior young woman.'

    'Superior, sir!' replied John, warmly.  'Ah, you may well say that; there's nobody like her.'

    That same afternoon, as Emily and her grandmother were sitting at their tea about half-past four o'clock, the latter told her granddaughter that she had heard a report in the town respecting the monument which Mrs. Smalley meant to put up to her mother's memory.  'It is to be a grand thing, not, in the churchyard, but in the church, as I hear,' said the old woman, 'and they do say that John Mills is to make it.'

    Great was Emily's surprise, and so great her curiosity to know what sort of work John Mills could bestow on the monument — that when her grandmother proposed that she should step into the cottage where Mills lived, and ask the particulars about this matter, she made no objection, but put on her bonnet and took her grandmother's message.

    Passing through his mother's garden she reached the sunny little shed where John Mills worked, and found him with a sharp tool in his hand carving a leaf on the lid of a small box.  John wiped a little bench for her to sit on, but Emily preferred to stand, leaning against the side-post of the shed looking about her.  She had not entered the place for some time; and though she did not understand much about the work he was engaged in, she observed at once that some of it was very different from the common articles which she had seen produced by workmen, or even those which she had seen John Mills' father carve when she was a little child, and loved to watch him when he was cutting the angel faces for the church.

    John soon told Emily what she wished to know, and added, 'I was to wait on Mrs. Smalley at the White Hart before she left the town, and hear what her notions were about the stone.  She wished to have an urn on it — I said I could carve that very easy, but I should like better to do a wreath of leaves.'

    'And why not the urn?' said Emily.

    'Why, because that is only an imitation sort of thing, that we should never have thought of putting up, only that there were nations who used to burn their dead, and they collected the ashes in urns, and when they carved a marble urn, it was a natural way of reminding them of the dead.'

    'I like to see folks represented on their tombs, lying with their hands up praying,' said Emily.

    'Yes, but that would be too expensive, too grand for what I am to do: this is to be what they call a mural tablet, and very small, just the name and age, and one text.  So I proposed to carve a garland of leaves, and twist them with a ribbon, on which I could cut the words "We all do fade as a leaf."'

    'Poor old Aunt,' said Emily; 'and when folks see it, they will think she was a lady, and no one will doubt that she had plenty of good clothes and lay warm and comfortable at night, and yet, John, it seems very respectable to have a monument, doesn't it?  I think I should like one myself.'

    'Mr. Ward said once in his sermon,' observed John, '"Why should we regret that the remembrance of us should perish from the earth, if our names are written in heaven?"'

    'How you remember the sermons, John,' said Emily; 'it must be that you think of them more than I do; but when I hear that sort of thing said, I cannot help wishing that I was great enough to be remembered here, or good enough, or wise enough.'

    'We all wish, you see, to be the upper and not the under,' observed John; 'now for my part, I always keep wishing that I could carve stone as well as carving can possibly be done, even as well as Gibbons carved wood: if I could but carve like him, I think I should be happy.'

    John rose as he spoke, and waded among the delicate wood-shavings to a rough table.  'Look,' said he.  'Mr. Clements, the gentleman that was so kind as to wish to put me to school, came here six weeks ago, and said if I could carve him a figure, he would take it to London and have it valued, and whatever it was said to be worth he would give me for it.'  John lifted up some coarse wet cloths as he spoke, and exposed to view a kneeling figure moulded in clay.

    'An angel!' exclaimed Emily.

    'No,' said John; 'I mean it for a figure of Hope.  You see it looks up, and has wings to fly upwards with; but I have made it kneeling, to show that it is a humble Hope.  It keeps looking on and upwards; but though its wings are spread ready for flying, you are to think that it does not see the way yet to what it wishes to reach, and indeed expects to reach when the time comes.'

    'You should have put an anchor beside her,' said Emily, 'and then everybody would have seen what she was; however, she has a beautiful face, John, and she makes me see what a different sort of thing your hope is to mine.  Do you know, I believe if you had been sent to school as you wished, you would never have made the figure waiting to fly because she does not see the way.'

    'I did not mean to put anything about myself in the figure,' said John, colouring.

    'But,' continued Emily, 'you say this Hope expects to reach whatever it is looking for, when the time comes.'

    'She would not be Hope if she did not,' said John.

    'And yet if I had made this face, I should not have let it look so calm,' said Emily.  'Folks are only calm when they expect and wish for nothing better than they have got.  Now, I wish and expect and hope for a great deal that I have not got; and the more I do so, the less quiet I am, and the more restless I grow.  John, I think if I had been you, I must have gone to learn drawing and all those fine things that Mr. Clements offered to have you taught.  I can see that it was your duty to stay; but if I had been you, I am sure I could not have seen it.'

    'They must have gone into the workhouse if I had left them,' said John.

    'But then you would have come back quite a different person,' proceeded Emily; 'and by this time it would have all been over, and you would have taken them to live with you, and you would have been quite a grand man! — we should all have been looking up to you.'

    John started on hearing this thoughtless speech, and said, 'Should you have looked up to me?  should you have liked me better then?'

    Emily blushed; but she was too conscientious to let her careless words do harm, and she forced herself to say: 'I should not have respected you so much as I do now and as for liking, I like you very well as you are — we are very good friends.  And, John,' she added, frankly, 'if you think I do not care more for you than I do, just because you are not better off, and not getting on, you are mistaken; for, to tell you the truth, I really expect that you will get on far better than I shall in the end.'

    John looked up surprised; but he shook his head and laughed at her remark, and said she must be making sport of him.  Still he was pleased, and ventured to ask her if she would let him copy her hands as models for his figure.  'I have only pictures to copy from,' he observed, 'and they will not do.  Mother's hand has got rough with hard work, so I have been obliged to leave the hands till I could get some to copy; and if you would hold up yours in this way, it would be such a help to me.'

    Emily said she would, and promised to come and sit to him the next half-holiday; and then she went home feeling far more respect than she had ever done before for poor John, and wishing she could follow his good example; for she had sense enough to perceive his simplicity, his strong feeling of duty, and his industry, while at the same time she felt and acknowledged to herself that she could not make up her mind to be so straightforward in the pursuit of what was right at all risks.  'I am sure I could not do it,' she thought; 'and what a good thing it is that I have no call to give up an advantage for the sake of relations and parents!'

    On the appointed evening Emily took her work and went to John's cottage to have her hands copied for the figure.  She knocked at his mother's door about five o'clock in the afternoon, but John, whom she had expected to find waiting for her, was not at home: he had gone to the town to fetch some medicine for his father, who was suffering much from pain in his lame hand.

    Emily found that she was in the way, for the sick man was very fretful and restless: she therefore withdrew to the shed, and sat down on a bench just within its wide door, taking out her knitting to occupy the time.  There were strange things in this shed grim old stone heads with features broken and defaced, quaint carvings which had been brought from a neighbouring church to be copied; and, standing on a settle, several large jugs full of field flowers, apple boughs with fruit on them, delicate trailing tendrils of ivy and hedge creepers, which John had collected to copy his carvings from.

    The floor was strewed thickly with dust, yet the shed looked comfortable, and even neat; and the kneeling figure, which John had set ready for Emily's visit, seemed to her to have grown more beautiful since she had seen it last.

    'It is all very fine,' thought Emily, to be able to make such beautiful things, but poor John will not earn much by this, I should think; — let me see, I should say that, if I was kneeling down in that position, my foot could not be seen by any one standing facing me — I'll just try.'

    Emily accordingly knelt down, arranged herself and her dress as nearly as she could in the attitude of the figure, put up her hands, and found that it was as she had thought, — the foot, unless a little twisted, could not be seen.  Before she rose, a sudden diminution of light made her look up to a hole in the back of the shed which was roughly fitted with one pane of glass.  She saw a face looking in.  It was not John's face, and she started up, and hastily took her work and sat down again on a stool, while the owner of the face walked round the shed and presented himself at the door.

    Emily looked up and saw an elderly gentleman with a pleasant countenance: in fact he was smiling.

    'Good evening,' said the gentleman, 'are you John Mills' sister?'

    'No, sir,' replied Emily, 'only a neighbour.'

    'I am come to see the figure he is to model for me.  Ah! very good; did the boy do this entirely himself, I wonder?  Very good, very good indeed, poor fellow.'

    'Yes, sir,' said Emily, who supposed that she was expected to say something.

    'You take an interest in it, I see,' said the gentleman, still smiling.

    'I promised John that I would sit to him for the hands,' said Emily, a little vexed; 'but I knelt down just now to see whether the foot was right, sir, for I thought it was not.'

    'How should it be, poor fellow, when he has had no education?' replied the elderly gentleman.  'No, I will do what I can for him; but his is a case of genius wasted, talent obscured for want of knowledge.  The foot is wrong decidedly, as you say, but the face is exquisite.'

    'Yes, sir,' repeated Emily.

    'I am sorry the poor fellow is such a fool,' continued the gentleman, to Emily's surprise; 'talk of duty! a man's first duty is to himself.  Charity begins at home; that is to say, with number one.  Don't you think so, young woman?'

    'No, sir,' replied Emily.

    'Well, well,' said the gentleman, 'no more do I; but really it is such a shame to think of genius like this lost and wasted for want of training, that it makes one talk at random, and puts one out of temper.  He'll never be anything but a superior sort of cabinetmaker all his life; he does not understand the first principles of art.'

    Emily had no answer to make to this: she went on with her work, and was considering whether she could withdraw, when the gentleman, who had been scanning John's model with great attention, turned to her and said:

    'Have you got a gown made of any kind of heavy woollen material that is not stiff?'

    'Yes, sir,' said Emily, very much surprised.

    'Well,' he answered, 'if you would do me the favour to put it on and come here, I would show John how to make these folds more simple.'

    Emily was very good-natured, and therefore, though she would rather some one else had been found to perform the kind office for John, she did not hesitate to go home and take out her winter gown, which, though neither bright-coloured nor new, certainly was just what the gentleman had required: it was very heavy, and had no stiffness in it.

    She put it on, and came back to the shed, where she found John as well as his patron.

    'Thank you, I am much obliged to you,' said the gentleman, 'that is exactly what I wanted; now will you be good enough to place yourself in the attitude of the figure?'

    Emily did so, and the heavy clothing fell about her, as she could herself see, in larger and more simple folds than those which John had chosen; she continued to kneel while John stood at a distance with his patron, who pointed out to him very openly the defects in his drapery, and desired that he would remark the effect of the evening sunlight upon it.  'But this,' said he, 'is such a little place, that you really cannot retire far enough, either from your model or your work, to see how they look: yours is indeed the pursuit of art amid difficulties however, if your young neighbour will sit to you frequently, and if you study what books you can get, it is just possible you may do something worth mentioning, — just possible.  Well, I am pleased with the figure on the whole, John.  If your young neighbour will allow you to sketch these folds before she rises, she will confer a favour.'

    So saying, he nodded to John, made a little bow to Emily, and went away.

    'Now, John,' said Emily, 'if you wish to draw my gown — the worst and ugliest gown I have got — please to be quick and begin.'

    John did not look like himself; he was very grave and serious; even Emily's presence did not seem to cheer him, for he heaved a deep sigh as he went to fetch a coarse sheet of paper and a carpenter's red pencil.

    'John,' said Emily, 'what are you thinking of —'

    John repeated Mr. Clements' words: '"It is just possible you may do something worth mentioning, — just possible," that was what I was thinking of,' he said.

    'He did not say so because he thought you wanted wits,' said Emily, 'but only because you had not had schooling to teach you how to do this sort of thing.  So you need not be so desponding; you may be able to get good instruction after all.'

    'I don't expect it,' replied John; 'father's hand has been very bad all day and very full of pain, and I went to the doctor for his medicine, and asked what he thought of the case.  Says he, "I am afraid he will never be any better; indeed I see nothing else for him but being crippled in his hands altogether."'

    'I am sure I am heartily sorry,' said Emily.

    'Mr. Clements is very good in ordering things of me,' observed John; 'but I hardly know how it is; he makes me feel miserable after he is gone, at least till I have had time to come to myself: he has a way of putting things that makes the things I wish for most seem to be a duty, when I know that they would be sins.  He said to-day: "Well, young man, sometimes I think I must give you up, for you have neither the real good of your family nor your own good at heart.  You won't be at the trouble of learning."'

    'What did you say to that?' asked Emily.

    'I said I could not see that it would be for the real good of my family to go to the workhouse.  "Yes," says Mr. Clements, "it would, if you could raise yourself in the meantime, so that in a few years you could take them out and make them a handsome allowance."'

    'There seems something in that, John,' said Emily; 'it does not sound so unkind when he puts it in that way.'

    'He said to-night, "You have no ambition,"' observed John. '"Oh yes, I have, sir," says I; and I thought to myself, though I would not say it to a gentleman that does not seem to think much about religion, — I thought that perhaps he would give me up altogether if he knew how many times a day I said over to myself the prayer in the Litany:

    'From all blindness of heart, from pride, vainglory, and hypocrisy, Good Lord, deliver us.'

    Emily did not answer.  John went on diligently drawing the folds of her gown, and presently added: 'That prayer seems to me sometimes as if it was made on purpose for me.  Blindness of heart is just the thing that comes over me when I want to go to that school; everything seems to change, and I can't see that it's my duty to maintain father and mother, nor to stop and finish father's work that he has promised and cannot do; it all seems as if it really was my duty to go, till I pray that I may be delivered from the blindness; and then I can see that, if any other young fellow was in my place, I should think his duty was plain enough; but I did not mean to preach to you, Emily.'

    The evening sun was now going down, and its rays lighted up the shed and the jugs of flowers, and the figure and face of Emily Welland, as she knelt quietly with her hands folded while John sketched the folds of her gown.  She was very silent, and her face became serious and thoughtful; indeed she was thinking much, and those thoughts were important to her and to John.

    She had felt, while he last spoke, how far more upright and earnest was his mind than her own; she had also felt that, while she was with him, her worldly and ambitious views and wishes for herself often faded into the background.  She always felt herself to be his superior as far as knowledge went, she had received such a good education; but in good principle and a desire to do her duty, she was so sensible that he was her superior, that she could not be with him for an hour without seeing fresh proofs of it.  'I do not know such a good young man,' she thought; 'and as for liking him, I really think I shall never find another that will come up to him.  Didn't he say the other day that he had never wished in his life to marry any other woman, but that he could not believe there was such a happy lot in this world as his would be if he could win me?  Well, I like him very much, and if I did marry him I feel sure he would make me better; but then — there would be an end to all my hopes of rising.  I could not go to London; I should be a poor working man's wife.  No, I must not do it: I will not come here often, or he will make me respect him and like him so much that it will end in my promising to marry him.  I am sorry he is only a working man; really I am very sorry for him, poor John!'

    'Emily,' said John, with a sigh, it is finished now; I am very much obliged to you.  I never had such a pleasant half hour before; it quite made me forget Mr. Clements and all my troubles; but the drawing is finished.  What have you been thinking of this long while, Emily?  I wish I knew.'

    'I have not been thinking of anything that would please you,' replied Emily, rising and gently shaking the saw-dust and shavings from her gown.  'Well, as you have done, John, I must go, for grandmother will be waiting for her supper.'

    The sun was now getting low, and just as the last sunbeam disappeared from her face, and ceased to light up the shed, his mother came to the open door, and told him his father's hand was so painful that he must go again to the doctor and see if he would come and try to relieve it.

    So John went away: and as Emily stepped out into the quiet evening air talking with John's poor careworn mother, she felt that it was a hard thing to be a poor man's wife, and see him disabled and not capable of doing anything for her and his children, while at the same time so much of her time was occupied in nursing him that she could not go out herself to work and earn something towards their support.

    The next day poor Mills was very ill, and from that time for five weeks he lay in bed suffering with rheumatic fever, and unable to feed himself or turn his feeble head on the pillow.  His wife and his son spared no pains to nurse him, and denied themselves many comforts in order to pay for his medicines and medical attendance.  At first all looked as neat and comfortable as usual about them, but as time wore on and he got no better, the garden became full of weeds, and the vegetables were left to run to seed; the little girls, instead of going to school so clean and tidy, began to look ragged and forlorn; John's mother became haggard and pale with watching and fatigue, and John himself grew thin, his cheeks hollow, and his eyes dim.


 
CHAPTER III.


EMILY did not see Mrs. Smalley any more before she left the town; and as she had to teach in the daytime, and very often to go to Miss Cooper also in the evening to receive lessons from her, she had not very much time to spend in thinking about leaving her present occupation and taking to dressmaking; but the more she did think, the less she liked that a situation such as Miss Cooper filled was to be her ultimate position in life, when her relation, lived in luxury, and had so many advantages and pleasures.

    Poor Emily! she did not know, or she forgot, that while one dressmaker rises to riches and lives in luxury, five hundred struggle with poverty, and barely earn a maintenance.

    She forgot that health as well as skill, and patrons as well as industry, were wanted, and she constantly said to herself, 'Let me only get to London to Mrs. Smalley, who has no child to leave her business to, and I will engage to be a good workwoman; and then, if I make myself useful to her, she may get fond of me, and I may be her successor, and live in that fine house of hers, — who knows?'

    By frequently thinking thus, she brought herself to believe at last that, let her only find her way to Mrs. Smalley, and her fortune was made; and she began to dislike the work that she now had to do, and to think that, as she had made up her mind not to be a schoolmistress, there was no need for her to prepare so industriously for the examination.

    She was teaching a class one afternoon, and it seemed to her that they did not read so well as usual.  The little ones spelled the words and lingered over them till she became quite tired of their sounds.  It was part of her duty to question the children on the texts they read.  When the one — 'And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content,' had been finished, she proceeded as usual to ascertain whether they understood it; while, at the same time, her own thoughts continually strayed to the subject that now so constantly occupied them.

    'What does food mean, children?'

    'What we eat, ma'am.'

    'What does raiment mean?'

    'What we have to wear — Sunday clothes and work-a-day clothes.'

    'What does content mean?'

    Silence in the class.

    'Come, you know very well; you had it explained to you in the gallery this morning.'

    'It's what we all ought to be,' said one.

    'It's very wicked not to be contented,' remarked another.

    'Very true,' thought Emily but she added aloud, 'Tell me the texts that you were taught; perhaps they may help you to explain what it is to be content.'

    '"Be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."  It means that they were to be satisfied, ma'am.'

    'To be sure; I knew you could tell me if you would give your mind to it.  Now tell me the other text.'

    'For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.'

    'Who said that?'

    'St. Paul did, ma'am.'

    'Ought we to be contented, then, as he was?'  'Dear me,' thought Emily, 'how strange that I should have to teach them this, when I feel so differently!' —'Ought we to be contented, children?'

    'Yes, ma'am.'

    'Why should we be?  Who is it that orders how much money and how much food we shall have, and whether we shall be labouring folks or gentle-folks?'

    'God does.  Everything belongs to God.'

    'Then, God could easily give us a great deal more than we have if he chose, and if it was good for us?'

    'Yes, sure.'

    'And does God love us?'

    'Yes, ma'am.'

    'How do we know that?'

    'Because He gave his Son to die for us.'

    'Then, if it was good for us, we may be quite sure that He would give us more; and so we ought to be content, because God knows best, and He has only given us a little.'

    Emily sighed as she finished her lesson, for the reasoning did not content her.  She had spoken to her grandmother respecting her wish to go to London, and had told her what Mrs. Smalley had said.  Rather to her surprise, the promise given that she should be received and taught dressmaking had delighted her grandmother, who had said at once that she should like it to be accepted as soon as she was out of her apprenticeship.

    Emily therefore walked to the Vicarage when school was over, to tell the Vicar her determination; and as she went she thought of her own lesson, specially of the last words, 'because God knows best, and He has only given us a little.'  'I am not so sure of that,' thought Emily; 'I do not believe one of those children ever wanted a meal, or a decent suit of clothes; they are at school, too, and have tolerably comfortable homes so, while they are children, they are almost as well off as children can be.  I have only a little, for I know of so much more; but that has nothing to do with the duty of being contented; for St. Paul was contented even when he suffered want, which I have never done.'

    Emily reached the Vicarage, and asked if she might see Mr. Ward.  Her heart beat a little when she was shown into his study, but she managed to explain her errand, and added, that she had thought it her duty to speak thus early, that there might be time to select a person to fill her place.

    Mr. Ward looked very much vexed, but he said not a word; and Emily, feeling more doubtful as to whether she was doing rightly than she had ever felt before, went on explaining her reasons, till she began to see that they were not very satisfactory, nor very creditable to herself.  At last Mr. Ward spoke:

    'You have quite made up your mind to this, Emily Welland?'

    'Yes, sir.'

    'Because,' he added, 'this dressmaking affair seems to me to be a sad descent in life for you; what people would call a come-down.'

    'Sir!' exclaimed Emily, astonished at this view of the case.

    'It may be your duty to go,' continued the Vicar, 'and I suppose you consider that it is, as you are so decided about it; if so, I could not conscientiously oppose it; but if not, it really seems to me to be throwing away all your present advantages, and lowering yourself for nothing.'

    'I never thought it was a duty, sir; nothing of the sort,' exclaimed Emily.

    'What do you think it, then?' replied the Vicar.

    'An advantage, sir,' said Emily.

    'What! to be a needlewoman?'

    'Oh no, sir; not a common needlewoman.  I should be with Mrs. Smalley.'

    'But you would have to begin at the beginning, would you not?'

    'Of course I should have to learn the business, sir.'

    'And, as you have already learned one business, to begin another would be throwing yourself back, especially if the second business was inferior to the first.'

    'But, sir,' said Emily, 'if the second did not suit, I could return to the first.'

    'I do not understand much about feminine occupations,' replied Mr. Ward, 'and therefore I cannot tell whether dressmaking would unfit you for teaching: but it seems strange that you should wish to try.'

    'I might rise to be like Mrs. Smalley,' replied Emily.

    'The person who called on me about a gravestone?'

    Mr. Ward did not intend to speak slightingly, but his unintentional mention of her as the 'person' vexed Emily, for it made her see that he had not been deceived for a moment into supposing that she was a lady.

    'Yes, sir,' said Emily; 'she is my cousin, and has made a good property by dressmaking.'

    'I suppose she has made you some promise of taking you into partnership, or leaving you her business, as you seem so anxious to throw up a certainty for the sake of joining her.'

    'O no, sir; she only said she would teach me the business.'

    'Well, Emily Welland, you must do as you please.'

    'Then you do not approve, sir?  I thought, as it seemed a rise in life for me, you would think it my duty to close with it.'

    'We differ as to whether it is a rise; and if it was, that would by no means make me think it your duty to accept it.  It is, as you know, a duty to fit ourselves for the station in which it has pleased God to place us.  It may be natural, it may be allowable, it may be advantageous, to try to rise from it; but in this case I cannot see the duty.  You are placed where you are by Providence, that is to say, your present position has arisen out of circumstances which took place without your will or ordering.  As a little child you were put to school; you were quick, and rose to be a monitor; then, as you were not strong enough for hard work, and showed an aptitude for learning, you were made a pupil-teacher; then, as you proved apt at teaching, you became a teacher, and looked forward to being a schoolmistress.  You now wish to break away from your place and station and step into a different sphere.  I will not say any thing about rising or sinking, for that has really nothing to do with the matter.  You wish to change your occupation; then you should first have reason to think that you are not throwing aside work which Providence has assigned to you, and are not rashly making work for yourself which it was never intended you should do.'

    Emily sat silent a few moments, and then answered rather despondingly:

    'I do not see how any one is ever to rise, or to change, sir, if it is not right to do it without being sure beforehand that he is not leaving work assigned to him by Providence.'

    'I will show you what I mean.  If teaching had not suited your health; if you had found that you had no natural power to manage children, and could not acquire it; moreover, if you had felt that you had not aptitude for learning the things required of you, and I, feeling it too, had asked you to look out for another situation: then, if Mrs. Smalley, coming here, had said, "Emily Welland, I will teach you dressmaking," I should have said, "By all means go with her; here is a provision offered to you in the course of Providence."'

    Again Emily pondered; but teaching had become distasteful to her now that she had some definite prospect in view to take its place, and she therefore replied that she would think of what Mr. Ward had said, and took her leave.

    She walked home in no very pleasant frame of mind, and felt especially vexed at Mr. Ward's remark as to dressmaking being no rise for her.  'Does he mean to compare Mrs. Smalley,' she thought, 'who dresses in the handsomest silks and lace, has a handsome house and a footman, and such plenty of money that she even talks of retiring and living on her means, — does he mean to compare her with Miss Cooper, who has but one silk gown, has scarcely saved a hundred pounds, and works as hard as a servant?  Surely Mr. Ward must be joking, or perhaps, as he has taken a good deal of pains with me, he does not like me to leave the school just as I am beginning to be useful, and so said what he could to make me dislike dressmaking.'

    She walked up to her grandmother's cottage-door and was met by the old woman, who asked her whether she had been to inquire how their poor neighbour was.  'I hear he was worse yesterday,' she observed, 'and Mr. Ward came to read with him.'

    Emily turned and walked up her neighbour's garden to the cottage: the onion-beds were overgrown with weeds, and the cabbage-leaves reduced to mere skeletons by the multitudes of green caterpillars that now fed on them undisturbed; everything told of neglect and poverty, and the dirty blinds and uncleaned windows added to the desolate appearance of the place.  'Poor folks!' thought Emily, 'it is not their fault.  John has hardly time to get his work done and run errands for the things his poor father wants, and in the evenings he has other things to do than to weed the garden.  As to Mrs. Mills, I wonder how she contrives to sit up night after night.  It is plain that this long illness is a terrible misfortune to them.'

    Emily tapped at the door, and John's mother answered it, and coming out and shutting it behind her, stood outside a few minutes to talk to her young neighbour.  She said John had been up all the previous night, and was now asleep; and her forlorn appearance and weary air touched Emily's heart, but at the same time she thought, 'Should I look like this in the course of years if I married John? for, strange to say, though she had made up her mind not to marry him, she constantly reasoned with herself as to the propriety of thus rejecting him in a manner which showed how much she really respected and liked him.  His mother, without intending it, strengthened Emily's resolution that evening by remarking that her son had been obliged to pawn his best clothes, and sell some of their furniture, in order to pay the rent and the doctor.

    Emily was sincerely sorry for them, and as she went home again, and saw the three little girls bickering together under the walnut-tree, and one of them fretting and crying, she turned aside to ask what was the matter.

    'Sally would make her hands all black with pricking the green walnuts,' observed the elder child, 'and mother had said she was not to do it,' so they had taken them from her.

    Sally, a stout ruddy little girl of seven years old, was very sulky, and sat shaking her shoulders and crying; her hair was all tangled, her frock torn, and her pinafore dirty.

    'If I were you, instead of quarrelling out here,' said Emily to the children, 'I should ask mother to lend the little tub, and I should wash out these dirty pinafores.'

    'Father won't let us be in the house,' said the elder child; 'he can't abide any noise.'

    'You might set the tub out of doors,' replied Emily.

    'Mother has no soap,' was the quick answer; 'she used up the last bit washing out a shirt for John.'

    'Well, at any rate, you might mend Sally's frock; look what a state it is in; a great girl nearly eleven years old ought to be able to mend all the younger children's clothes.'

    'Mother said she would see to them herself one day,' drawled out the little girl; and a squabble beginning again about the walnuts, Emily withdrew, for she found she could not make any impression, and was shocked to see what a change a few weeks' neglect had made in these once orderly and cleanly children.

    The next day was Sunday, and John when he got up dressed himself for the first time in his life in his threadbare working clothes: his father, when he came into the living-room, was asleep in his settle-bed.  His mother, who had been up all night, was also sleeping with her weary head resting on her arms.  John sat down and looked about him; he felt wretched, and so low in his spirits that when the eight o'clock chime began to ring he could hardly refrain from tears, and he wished it was not Sunday.  'I got on pretty well through the week,' he thought, 'but to wear these old fustian clothes to-day is very hard.  What shall I do all day?  Go to church I cannot of course; and as to books, I've none — that I have not read over and over again, now that I have left off subscribing to the Institute.'  So saying he got up, and went softly out of the room to his shed, where he sat wearily, looking about him for half-an-hour, when his three little sisters came in, one with part of a loaf under her arm, and a second with a teapot in her hand.

    'Mother said they must have their breakfast in the shed,' they told him, 'for father was then asleep.  John cut some bread for them, and reached down a mug in which were some branches that he had been drawing from, washed it, and gave each child a mug of the cold tea from the teapot; he then took some himself; and there was something so desolate and sad in his appearance, that the children were made silent by it, and sat quietly before him waiting till he should speak.  At last John looked up, and his face cleared.  'I have been a long time thinking, but I have made up my mind now, children,' said he.  'It is too late for the Sunday school, but Polly do you go upstairs and get your Sunday bonnets, and bring a comb to make your hair smooth, and I shall take you all to church.'

    Great was the surprise of the children.  John go to church in his working clothes? they could not have thought it! — but they could easily go, for mother had not pawned their best tippets, and there was one clean pinafore yet for each of them at the bottom of the box; so they went to the pump in the garden and washed their bands and faces, that their father might not be disturbed by any noise in the house , and then their clean pinafores and tippets and their decent little bonnets were brought, and they were ready.

    When John saw them he thought they looked better than could have been expected; but all the brushing that he could give to his clothes did not make him look like anything different to a working man in a very shabby suit of working clothes.

    'Giving up the clothes I pawned, seemed nothing,' thought poor John; 'that was a duty to father, and I did not grudge it; but to go to church and show myself to everybody just as I am now, seems the hardest duty that ever I had to perform.  Come, children,' said John aloud.  'It's time we were off; but there's no harm in our going the back way.'

    'Lass,' exclaimed old Mrs. Welland, as she was taking off her neat black bonnet and her new shawl after the morning service; 'Emily lass, come here, there's John coming up the garden with his work-day suit on.'

    'Yes, grandmother,' said Emily, 'he has been to church.'

    'Church; go to church like a pauper!'

    'I suppose it was his duty to go, grandmother, and his mother told me they had made away with their best clothes.'

    'Duty, duty!' repeated her grandmother; 'don't talk to I, Ellie.  If folks can't go respectable and decent, they'd better not go at all.'

    'No, grandmother, you don't think that; if you had to pawn your best things you might feel that you would not go to church; but surely you respect them that will.'

    'The girl talks like a good book,' replied Mrs. Welland, shaking out her shawl and folding it carefully; 'she always does; but wait till thy Sunday things be at pawnshop, and —'

    'And see what I shall do,' interrupted Emily.  'Why, grandmother, I don't think my pride would let me go and show myself as John did this morning; but for all that, I know he did right.'

    John did not know that as he walked up the little garden his neighbours had observed him through their casement.  The fact was, John was much more comfortable than he had felt for some time; he had gone to church as a painful duty, and in its performance his obedience to the demand of conscience had been rewarded by a feeling of peace and comfort that made him wonder he had been so much cast down.  There was no change in his circumstances: his father was still very ill, his mother weary, his house and garden going to wrack, and poverty creeping upon those whom he had long worked for; but his heart was lightened, and as the prayers went on, often texts came into his mind which soothed and quieted it, and specially one which was still consoling him as he walked up to his cottage home — 'Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you.'

    His father, when he entered, was rather more free from pain than usual, and was pleased when his dutiful son gave him an account of the sermon, and read a chapter to him while his wife prepared their dinner.

    This, though not what they had been accustomed to in their better days, was more ample than they could afford on ordinary occasions; and when the sick man saw it, and saw his little girls neat and clean as of old, it revived his spirits, and he said he would sit up, and try if he could eat a little with them.

    In the afternoon, John sent the children to the Sunday school, and sat with his father, while his mother went and lay down to sleep on the children's bed.

    It was well that John had that quiet Sunday, and that he made up his mind early to go to church in spite of his shabby clothes, or in spite of his fear lest Emily and her grandmother should look upon him as sinking in life and losing his respectability.  If he had yielded to temptation on that first Sunday, the same reason would have existed for his absence the next, and the next, and he would have lost his peace of mind, and all the comfort that he derived from worshipping God in the clothes that it was now his duty to wear.

    For the next two months no contrast could be greater than that between the circumstances of these two families.  Comfort, cleanliness, order, and competence in that of the Wellands'.  Misery and sickness, poverty and disorder, in that of the Mills'.

    The poor suffering father became fretful and hard to please; he knew that his illness was wearing out his wife's health, and he saw his son grow thinner and paler every day, while he was often disturbed by the noise made in the garden by his neglected children, whom he could no longer afford to keep at school, and who became daily more fretful and unruly for want of something to do, and some one to look after them.

    Emily all this time went daily to the school, and came back in the evening fresh and cheerful, very often with a parcel in her hand; for she had saved a few pounds, and was now spending them in buying for herself a handsome assortment of new clothes, such as she thought would do her credit with Mrs. Smalley.

    Often and often, as Emily sat at work in the now short evenings, John Welland saw her from his shed.  He used to work there with a common lamp, and its light shining through the one pane of glass before mentioned, served to remind Emily of how hard he worked, and how late, for she often went to bed long before this light was withdrawn.  He was still busy on his figure of Hope.  But it was Emily whose heart was full of hope; his heart sank lower daily at the prospect before him and his parents, and he often worked far into the night with a trembling hand and a stomach faint from want of food.

    One night in November, after dark, some one rapped at Mrs. Welland's door, and John entered, his eyes sparkling, his cheeks flushed, and his whole appearance excited and eager.  Emily was standing up holding a pretty pink muslin dress, almost too light and gay to be serviceable to one in her rank of life.  She had just finished it, and as John came in she was saying to her grandmother, 'That is a good thing done: I am so glad I have finished all these flounces.'  John thought he had never seen Emily look so pretty before, for she too was flushed, and her eyes sparkled with pleasure as she looked at the dress.

    'She will look just like a lady in it,' he thought, and he glanced down at his own threadbare garments and shabby shoes.

    'You are quite a stranger, John,' said the grandmother kindly.

    John could not answer; he had not wished Emily to see him with unmended shoes and patched coat, and had therefore absented himself from her lately; but now a sudden feeling of triumph had made him forget his shyness for the time, and it was not till he opened the door and saw the comfort that reigned within, — the cosy fire, the pretty Emily with her new dress, and the grandmother frying bacon for supper, — that a sense of his inferior circumstances and the poverty and distress of his home made him feel more strongly than he had ever done before, how much his wished-for wife was out of his reach.  'I have finished my figure,' he at length stammered out, 'and though she is not as pretty a thing to look at as your pink dress, I thought perhaps — I wished you would come and look at her, Emily.'

    'I will to-morrow, John,' replied Emily.

    'Not to-night?' asked John, 'do come to-night; I have stuck up two candles to light the shed, and she looks much better by candlelight than by day-light.'

    'Go, Emmy,' said the grandmother, 'and John, lad, do thou come back to supper with us.'

    In the days when John was more prosperous and Emily less ambitious, she would not have been so willing to comply with his wishes; but there was something so sad in his gaunt face and so humble in his manner, that she had not the heart to refuse, and she laid aside her delicate muslin gown, and put a shawl over her head.

    It was a very mild, calm night, and Emily stepped through the little garden over a carpet of poplar leaves with which the paths were covered, greatly to their advantage, as she thought, for they served to hide the weeds.  John had borrowed a lantern of old Mrs. Welland, and he held it low as Emily walked that she might not tread on the borders.

    John had gone without his dinner that day, and spent the twopence that it would have cost him in buying four candles to light up the shed, for he had a great wish to see how his figure would look by candlelight.  Two of these candles were set in rude blocks of wood, and the others were held by two of his little sisters, who, when Emily entered, were standing solemnly just where he had placed them, throwing the light full on to the figure of Hope, which was set in its usual place on the rough wooden table.

    Emily had intended to say something kind and sympathizing to John about his work that had cost him so much trouble and care, but when she saw it, everything she had thought of went out of her head, and she stood gazing at it as silent and motionless as the children with the lights.

    What a wonderful circumstance, that out of all his misery, poverty, and care, should have come that snowy white thing with a rapturous face, hands so devoutly folded, a smile so calm and holy, and wings that seemed to Emily so buoyant and ready to fly, that every time the children's stirring altered the shadows on them, they seemed to waver and move, as if ready to spread themselves and bear John's beautiful Hope away!

    While Emily stood fixed in surprise and admiration, John's mother came in and said, 'If Mr. Clements does not give him two pounds for that, I shall say it is a shame.'

    'Oh, at the very least it ought to be two pounds,' echoed Emily; and she looked at John, who smiled.

    Emily caught the meaning of the look, and said, 'You expect more?'

    'I would take less,' answered John, 'but I am sure it is worth more.'

    'That's the first conceited thing ever I heard thee say, lad,' observed his mother, with a sigh.

    'I did not say I expected more than two pounds, mother,' replied John, 'so you need not be uneasy.  I shall let Mr. Clements have it if he only gives me five-and-twenty shillings, for whatever I get for it will be extra.  I have not spent one regular working hour upon it yet, when I had work to do.'

    'When is Mr. Clements coming to see it?' asked Emily.

    'He has seen it,' said the mother; 'he came this afternoon just afore dark, when John was out.'

    'And what did he say?'

    'Said nothing good nor bad, but sat on the block staring at it and whistling to himself, till my poor legs ached with standing behind him.'

    'Strange man,' said Emily; 'didn't he even say he liked it?'

    'Not he, but sat till it got so dusk he couldn't see it well; then got up and walked out.  "The lad has done it," says he, "and I'm no prophet.  Good evening, good woman," and off he goes.'

    'Then it is better than he expected,' said Emily, 'I am sure of it.'

    'He did not expect that he would be so quick in the carving of it,' continued the mother; 'he has only had the alabaster three months.'

    'I should have been a vast deal longer upon it, you know, mother,' said John, 'if I had not been unfortunately out of work the last five weeks.'

    'That,' thought Emily, 'is no doubt the reason why they have been obliged to pawn so many of their things,' but she did not say anything.

    John continued.  'It has been in hand for six months, and I may say it has been in my mind for two years, and I have drawn something like it over and over again, but could not get it to my fancy; at last I took to modelling it, and then I was ignorant enough to be pretty well pleased, till Mr. Clements showed me so many faults.

    'And after all this thinking and toiling you will let it go for two pounds,' interrupted Emily; 'why John, that is little more than two weeks' wages.'

    'Two pounds would pay our bread bill,' said John, 'and Mr. Clements will show the figure, and try to get me orders for more; of course I would not do another for the same sum of money, but while this first one stops here nobody sees it, and no good comes of it.'

    'To be sure,' said the mother, 'whatever Mr. Clements will give, that John should take, say I; for he has now got the promise of some common work, and that's regular wages, much better than toiling and wearing out his strength with making fine things for gentle-folks; but now he has had his way, and a very handsome thing he has made, I will say, poor boy, though I was always against his meddling with those fiddle-faddle things; I would a deal better see him cutting common mouldings as his father did before him.'

    'But you see, mother,' remarked John, 'I am very ambitious; I am not content to do common work; I want to do the best kind of work that there is to be done in my calling, and I want to do it in the best kind of way.'

    'Well, lad,' retorted the mother, 'I wish thou wasn't ambitious; as far as I can see, ambition after this fine work makes thee often go with a hungry stomach.'

    As John had never neglected any common work for the sake of the finer sort, and had walked many a weary mile lately in search of it, he felt the injustice of his mother's speech; and when his little sister said, 'I know John's clemmed ['Clemmed'pinched with hunger] to-night, for he had no dinner, and that's all along of the figure,' he felt extremely angry, and would perhaps have answered sharply, if his mother had not added, 'I must go to the father, he will be wanting me; and John, lad, don't keep the candles lighted long, they will last us a week in the house.'

    John put out three of the candles as she spoke, and took the fourth in his hand to the door.

    'Good-bye, Mrs. Mills,' said Emily; 'John, goodnight, and thank you for a sight of the figure.  Oh, I forgot, you are coming in to supper with us.'

    'No, thank you,' said John; and he coloured and looked so thoroughly vexed and ashamed, that Emily could not press him; she knew he was too proud to come and satisfy his hunger at their table, now that his little sister had said he was clemmed.

    'Poor lad!' thought Emily, as she reached her comfortable bower, and turning her head, saw John still standing in the open doorway of the shed, with the candle in his hand; 'poor lad! he looks very thin and pale.  What is he doing now, I wonder?'

    The night was so perfectly calm that the candle burned in John's hand quite steadily, and its light enabled Emily to see him distinctly, though he could not see her; and she watched him going with rather an eager face along the little path that was strewed with poplar leaves, and picking up leaf after leaf till he had collected a handful.

    'What does he want with them?' she thought; 'he cannot make a supper of them; I wish he could; going to carve them, I reckon.  As the candle shines on them they look as yellow as gold.'  She went in and ate her supper; then, before going to bed, went out of doors again to shut the cottage-shutters, and then saw John in the shed with the candle, and the door wide open; he had a large sheet of paper stretched before him on his rough easel, and she saw that he was intently drawing upon it, and that he still held the leaves in his left hand.

    As long as the candle afforded him light, and till it was burned down into the socket, and his hands were chilled with the night air, John went on with his drawing, and when he at length crept into the cottage he felt glad and elated, though very hungry; and he fell asleep pleased to think that one thing he had worked at was finished as well as he knew how to do it, and that another was begun which promised to be better.

    'I quite forgot to ask how John was getting on with poor old aunt's monument,' said Emily the next morning to her grandmother.  'Not getting on at all,' was the reply.  And then Emily heard, to her surprise, that John, having told Mrs. Smalley he could not afford to buy the stone for the work, she had said that when he was ready to begin carving she would advance the money for it.  Accordingly John had written some time before this to say that he was ready to begin, and that a letter had, after a long delay, been sent back, written by one of the assistants in the business, and that it declared Mrs. Smalley to be far too much engaged to attend to the matter at present, but that she would write when she was at liberty.

    'His mother told me so yesterday,' observed Mrs. Welland.  'It shows what a power of business she has.'

    'Yes; but it shows that she forgets what consequence it is to poor folks to be paid at the proper time,' said Emily.  'Now, all the time that John has been out of work he might have been finishing the monument.'  As Emily was soon about to place herself with Mrs. Smalley, she was particularly sorry to find that she was careless and inconsiderate in fulfilling her promises, and she several times made inquiries as to whether the money had arrived, but always with the same result.

    There is no need for me to describe all that took place in these two families till Christmas-time; it is enough to say that Emily worked hard, both at her examination papers and her clothes; and when the Christmas holidays began, she was spoken of by Miss Cooper as the most promising and clever, as well as the best-informed pupil-teacher that she had ever had under her care.  'She would be sure of a first-class certificate if she would keep to her present employment,' said Miss Cooper; 'indeed, she is quite fit to take my place even now.'

    But no; Emily had done her duty by her scholars, and had completed the course of instruction appointed for her.  She did not intend to do anything further, and when the examiner commended her, and paid over to her what she had earned, she thanked him, and went home resolved never to enter the schoolroom any more.

    It cost her some pain to take leave of Miss Cooper and of those children whom she had brought on in their learning; but she did it, shut the schoolhouse door after her, came home with the money in her pocket, and began with her grandmother to calculate what it would cost her to go up to London.

    The same night a letter was written to Mrs Smalley, who had said that she could receive Emily at any time, but should require two days' notice; and now all seemed to smile on the industrious girl.  All her new clothes were ready; her books were in excellent order; 'And no doubt,' thought Emily, 'I shall have time for reading and improving myself; all I have to do is to buy myself two boxes, pack up my things, and take leave of my friends.'

    But it so happened that the next day, when old Mrs. Welland went to the farmer's wife for whom she sold butter, she sat down in the kitchen, and related Emily's intention of leaving the town for London; and the farmer's wife observed that it was a long long journey for a young girl to take alone.

    'Oh, she is a steady girl,' said the farmer.  'But it is a mighty long way, and she will get in just at night, and London is full of sharpers and thieves, as we all know.  I would not let her all alone if she was mine; she may be robbed at the station, she may get her pocket picked, and nobody knows what mischief.'

    'What you do say, sir, be terrible true,' replied the grandmother.

    'There 's Mr. Glover the ironmonger going up the day after to-morrow,' observed the wife; 'why shouldn't she go with him?  I'll engage to say he would see her into a cab with her boxes.'

    'Is it so far that she cannot walk to Mrs. Smalley's?' asked old Mrs. Welland.

    'Bless you,' said the farmer, 'she can't walk five or six miles in London as she might do hereabouts; and what is to be done with her luggage, if she did?  No, no; depend on it she ought to go with somebody that knows London; do you speak to Mr. Glover, and it will be all right.'

    So the grandmother did speak to Mr. Glover, who seemed to think it was highly necessary that a young country girl like Emily should have somebody to look after and protect her, and, though he made a great favour of it, he said he would see her safe to London, and put her and her boxes into a cab, if requested.

    When Emily heard of this she was very sorry, for she wished to have an answer from Mrs. Smalley before she set off, and she did not like to start from home in such a hurry; however, her grandmother drew such a picture of the terrors of London, as represented both by the farmer and the ironmonger, that she consented to go with the latter, and began to pack up her things in haste, and not without a little sinking at heart.

    Old Mrs. Welland could not read, and as she was too proud to ask her neighbours to read letters to her, she desired Emily every fortnight to send her an old newspaper, or a little tract, or anything of the sort that she had by her that would come for a penny, and as Mr. Glover was only going to remain in Loudon a week, she calculated on hearing of Emily's safe arrival from him.

    If Emily could have stayed till nine o'clock on the third day after she had written to Mrs. Smalley, she might have had an answer; but unfortunately the cheap train by which she and Mr. Glover were going started at seven.  It was quite dark when she came out of the cottage door, after giving her good old grandmother a hearty hug, and ran down the cottage garden to wait for the omnibus.  John Mills was standing there; he had carried her boxes down for her, and was now waiting to help in putting them on the omnibus when it should arrive.  A third box was standing beside them, and that, John told her, contained his figure.  It was going up to London, by Mr. Clements' orders, by that morning's train.

    Emily, in her large comfortable shawl, her neat merino dress, and nice bonnet with its little net veil, looked the picture of health and youthful beauty as she stood out there in the early daylight; but John, in his threadbare clothes, and with his thin face, looked hardly fit to be her companion.  Notwithstanding this, he could not help saying to her: 'Would there be any chance of your liking me, Emily, if I got on, and we got over these troubles?'  But Emily shook hands with him and said: 'John, I hope you won't talk in that way; I do like you, but I shall never be anything but a friend to you.'  As she said this the omnibus drove up, the boxes were put on the roof, Emily set off for London, and John went back to his shed.



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