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foregone remark; “I'll unmask it. Now, my little maid,” he added aloud, " what is your name, and where do you come from ? "
The girl replied to each of his queries,
" And what I ask you for the third timor-what do you on my door-step ?"
" As if she were following the Hindoo method of sitting in dharna,” said Fisher, who had been a traveller.
“ I-I didn't mean any harm, sir," replied Jane, bursting afresh into tears. “I have lost five shillings ; my grandmother sent me to pawn a ring, and I have lost the money.”
The clergyman looked his friend solemnly in the face. “To pawn, to pawn !” he exclaimed, giving to each syllable its due impressive enunciation. "The vice of the lower classes is abominable-to pawn !
The shock was too immense for the reverend gentleman to contend against. He waved his hand, saying, “ There, get away child, get away ;” and walked into the house, followed by his friend.
Jane hurriedly left that neighbourhood. No good, she thought, could come from such a vicinity. But what was she to do? She must beg now, and haply she might meet with those who imputed to the lower orders something which was not “vice.” It was with a heavy heart that, turning out of the street in which the clergyman lived, she stood where the ladies passed home from the market, and looked in their faces with eager, hungry eyes. It began to snow just at this time. Timid and ashamed, she watched an opportunity to make her first appeal. But every one was in such haste to get home, now that snow was falling, that her supplicating attitude, and pale, attenuated face were scarcely noticed, or gained only a cold, unsympathising stare. Ah, it was sad for the poor girl to see so many fellow-Christians, not one of whom was disposed to lend to their Maker an unstateable fraction of the wealth He had bestowed upon them. It is true that she had not yet petitioned with her tongue,- but her eyes, her cheeks, her pinched limbs and bare attire, what eloquent tongues they had ! How impressive their oratory! But it was a week-day, and Charity was a theme for Sundays. Once in seven days, the rich folks of Rookfield condescended to call the poor their brethren.
Faster fell the snow, The girl's bonnet and shawl were white as the roofs of the houses. She shivered and her teeth chattered. The marrow of her bones was chilled. She had addressed five or six individuals, none of whom deigned a reply, or recognised her existence by so much as a shake of the head, or other mute rejec. tion of her suit. “Only a penny,--'tis for my grandmother; I have lost five shillings, and we have nothing to eat at home.” Faster fell the snow, and those who were thus entreated walked faster on their way.
He that giveth to the poor, lendeth to the Lord. Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it not to me. Holy words, accredited by those who turned a deaf ear to the petition of the shivering beggar girl.
Upwards of two hours did Jane stand, exposed to the thickly. falling snow, and suffering the severest privation from the combined effects of cold and hunger. And during all that time she got angry and even abusive words, deprecating looks, and threats of Bridewell, but not one halfpenny, not one.
And now the day was so far advanced that the night would soon close in. It still snowed fast-fast. The cold was extreme. As she hurried along the pavement, she caught frequent sights of rousing fires in grates, and happy people warming themselves thereby. The cold was in her limbs, and in her heart. She must hasten home, lest her poor grandmother should die with fright because of her long absence. Yet once more she would beg-pet once more, for her aged relation's sake, she would beg.
A sailor, rather an uncommon personage in Rookfield, approached. She raised her hands in supplication, her pale face, streaming with tears, and her supplicating attitude, attracted the worthy tar's attention. She told her story, and the humane seaman drew from his pocket a leathern purse, and placed five shillings in her hand, saying that he gave it to her for the sake of his mother, who was also an old woman, and whom he was hurrying to meet, after a long-long absence--if she were still aliveif she were still alive. He should have a child too, he said, but he thought she was dead, he did ’nt know.
Oh joy-oh, light-hearted joy! Heaping uncounted blessings upon the head of the generous son of Neptune, our happy Jane set her face homeward in good earnest. She was on the moor now ; but soaked to the skin by the penetrating snow, and chilled almost beyond the power of her slight, enfeebled frame to bear. At every step she took, her strength grew less and less. The snow fell now so fast and thick, that objects at a trifling distance were obscured, and her little feet sank deeper every instant.
Oh-to die upon that lonely moor-how horrible! To sit frantically down, and—as she remembered to have heard it told that people so had perished—to heap the snow wildly around her, and build herself a frightful tomb therewith! Were such to be her end, through the long hours of that bitter winter's night, how would her old grandmother rave in mad despair, and call vainly upon heaven to aid her darling child! .
Thicker and faster-thicker and faster yet. No sky, no horizon, no object on which to rest the eye, but all one waste of snow, that made the eyeballs ache to look upon. Faster and faster yet, and feebler and feebler grew her steps. A dizziness came over hera strange sensation spread around her heart. She could not hold out much longer. She felt herself sinking- Yet one more struggle for her young life.
A chirp, as of a little bird, sounded in her ear. It was close beside her—a robin-a winter robin.
The moor was, in summer, particularly barren, even for a moor. There was not a tree for a bird to perch upon. Only a few shrubs, and they were now hidden by the snow..
It was only a simple robin,- but God alone knows how greatly its presence cheered our little maiden, battling against the storm on that shelterless and dreary moor. What trifling circumstances infuse new life into the desponding breast! The Scotch warrior gleaned new vigour from watching the efforts of a spider. Mungo Park, when resigned to die in the African desert, beheld a tiny weed lifting its obscure head to the heaven that encloseth all the world, and felt that God, who planted that humble vegetation there, and did not withdraw from it His sustaining hand, but sent the breeze to fan it, and the rain to water it would succour the child of his own likeness also ;-and from that consoling thought, there grew such energy, that his limbs received new strength thereby, and he prosecuted his path anew, and arrived safely at the village he had despaired to reach. And this little robin,—this humble robin, dearly beloved by tale and fable, and homely rhyme
—of the music of its speech, of its chirp, chirp, chirp—were begotten such resolution and courage in the heart of the sinking child, that there was no longer any question of her drooping and dying; but a certainty that she should behold her grandmother again, and live, please God, to bless Him in after years for preserving her amidst the dangers of that afternoon.
The robin, too, became her guide. Not that she could have missed her way, but the trodden path being hidden by the snow, one direction, so that she did not wander far from the conjectured track, was as good as another. And the robin went right onward, hopping now—now flying, and ever strengthening her resolution. And so she found herself, ere long, at the door of her grandmother's cottage, and then she saw the robin no more.
She related her story to her grandmother while warming herself at the fire which blazed on the hearth. And oh, what fervent thanksgivings ascended that night from that lowly roof to the Throne of Glory!
The next morning there came a knock at the cottage door, and when Jane opened it, who should present himself but the sailor who had given her five shillings on the previous afternoon. He started with surprise at seeing Jane, and enquired whether Dame Foster lived there. When Jane replied that she did, the seaman gave a cry of joy.
“Thats Richard's voice,” exclaimed the old woman from within. “I know it is. God be praised. He has sent me back my son.”
“My mother, my dear mother,” cried the sailor rushing into the cottage.
We pass the scene which followed. .
“And so this is my Jane,—my own child,” said the seaman, presently, taking her in his lap, and kissing her for full five minutes without drawing breath.
“ Yes, that is poor dead Mary's child,” said the grandmother. “It was her mother's wedding-ring that she pawned yesterday.”
The old woman, the neighbours, Jane herself, all assert that it was no robin ; but an angel from the skies, that led her over the moor that afternoon. Who shall dare laugh at their belief? For are not the resolves, which, nobly taken, enable us to battle successfully with the storms of life, and conduct us safely HOMEangels, and guardian angels, too? So, here's God speed the Winter Robin on repeated missions!.
ENGLISH SCENES AND CHARACTERS.
BY WILLIAM HOWITT. The more one sees of other countries, the more one is satisfied of the truth of the common assertion, that there is no country where such variety of curious and independent individual character abounds as in our own. The freedom of our constitution, both in politics and religion, is undoubtedly the cause of it. We have so many sécts, and so many opinions of our own on all matters, that we stand up for them with a pertinacity which grows on us both with the growth of centuries, and of our own years. We have no government police entering into our houses, however they may now parade before them, and compelling us to do this and that, even to the sweeping of our chimneys, and the making of our coffins, contrary to our own pleasure and notions of what is right. Government ffeeces us sweepingly enough of our cash, but in other respects, and especially in provincial towns and country places, we do just as we like, and some of us grow into habits and ideas most amusing. I have formerly shown some specimens of this in my “ Nooks of the World ; ” and how many more Nooks might we visit in this land of good, hard-headed John Bull, abounding with oddest scenes and characters. There might be a dozen more volumes of “ The Eccentric Mirror” written out of one's own knowledge. Let us from time to time pen a few down.
NO. I.--THE COUNTRY MANTY-MEKKER. A friend of mine had reniarked for some time in Nottingham, where he lived, a singular-looking woman going to and fro in the streets past his house. She was tall and strong ; had the figure and gait of a man ; had a strong expressive countenance, full of a strange but original character ; in short, was one out of the ordinary class of mortals. “That woman,” said he to himself, “is no townswoman. She has grown up in some country-place ; she has not only a character, but a history, and I should like to know it.” As he passed her once in the street, she seemed to look hard and searchingly at him, as if to say, “ Who are you now? You don't seem to me just like the rest of these townsfolks, who don't care a halfpenny for anybody that isn't dressed