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But he seldom was seen
To have washed himself clean,
THE Joneses were a respectable family; but one of the girls was a sad trouble to them. When very little, she was for ever taking what did not belong to her, and though constantly punished for it, she seemed as if she could not keep her fingers off what was not hers. If sent to fetch a loaf, she broke off the corners, and eat them before she brought it home. If told to bring a jug of beer, she always took a sip; and her mother's sugar was never safe in the cupboard.
The girls who sat near her at school were always missing their slate-pencils or their thimbles. It seemed a sort of madness in her. She was not driven to it by want; for her parents gave her enough to eat and drink, and anything else that was needful. When she was about twelve years old, one night after she was in bed, she heard some strange voices below, and then her father came up-stairs.
“Well, Hester,” he said, " you have done for yourself now. You must go off with the police to prison this night, for stealing a fivepound note out of Mr. Boyd's kitchen. You will have been the death of your mother, for she will not live through such disgrace; and I”—here her poor father burst into tears, and sobbed like a child.
Hester denied having touched the five-pound note. It was true she had been into Mr. Boyd's kitchen, and just afterwards the cook missed the five-pound note, which she had put in a jug on the mantelpiece. No one else had been in. Hester Jones was well known not to be particular as to what she took, and when the cook remembered she had seen her there, she had no doubt who was the thief.
Nor had her parents, nor the neighbours, nor the police ; but at last they were so sorry for her father, they said they would leave her at home till the morning, hoping that in the meantime she would confess, and tell what she had done with the money. So she was sent back to bed; but great was her parents' horror, at finding in the morning that she had got out of a back window, and was not to be seen anywhere. The ponds were dragged, the police advertised for her, her mother almost lost her senses, fearing she had destroyed herself; but nothing was heard of her.
One day, about three months after she had been lost, Mr. Boyd's cook came in, to say she had found the five-pound note, and that it really had never been stolen. She found she had locked it up in a little box, and forgotten it, but, wanting some papers out of it, had found the money.
that in that home till the said they would
She was so sorry for the misery she had occasioned by suspecting Hester, that she offered her mother a pound; but she would not take it—no money could give her back her child; and the poor woman fretted, till everyone thought she could not live long.
So passed the summer and autumn. Every sound made Mrs. Jones start and tremble. The sight of the postman in the village made her heart beat, hoping there might be a letter; but none came.
The days got short, and there was a heavy fall of snow in December.
PART II. One night Mrs. Jones said to her husband, "I am sure I hear some one crying out."
“Nonsense!” he answered. “You do get so full of fancies, you are always hearing what no one else does.”
“Dear husband, do give way to me once more. Open the door, and listen.”
“ And give you the rheu-ma-tism again, and make your cough worse. How should there be any one out such a rough night ?»
Mrs. Jones was generally very gentle and sub-mis-sive; but now she said no more, but walked to the door herself and opened it; and sure enough, amidst the roaring wind amongst the trees, was a cry of “Mother, mother !” and rushing out, she found lying amongst the snow her poor child. She raised her up, but nearly fainted herself. The father brought them both in, set them by the fire, and gave Hester something hot to drink, which revived her.
“And, my darling, you were innocent; you never did it. We know that now. The five pounds have been found.”
“Oh, thank God for that! It's more than I deserved, I have been guilty so often. But, mother, I never would have touched anything like that. I never saw the harm of helping myself to trifles, till I found what it was to have no character, and that you and father believed I had done it.” She then went on to tell them that when the police were threat-ening her, one of them said she would come to be hung. This terrified her so, she resolved to escape that dreadful death by running away.
When her sister, with whom she slept, had fallen sound asleep, she let herself out of the window, and ran as fast as she could across the fields to the high-road, and then to a wide common, where she had seen a camp of gipsies. She besought of them to hide her for a few days, as some policemen wanted to take her to prison, and hang her for something she had not done. Gipsies are no friends of the police, so they let her travel with them, hiding her in their tra-vell-ing-tent, till she got to a village where they were picking hops, and she got some work.
But she often felt very ill, and always very miserable when she thought of her mother. On Sunday she went to church, as she had been used to do; and the clergyman's wife
noticed her, and asked her about her health, and seeing she was very feverish, got her into a hospital, where for some weeks she lay between life and death, and when she got better she determined to go home; but she was too weak to be able to walk, too poor to afford to pay for the rail ; she got a lift now and then in a cart, trembling with terror lest some policeman should catch her; then a violent snow-storm overtook her just by her father's door, and in her weakness she could not struggle on, but called again and again on her mother.
I think you will feel sure now that poor Hester saw how her little sins had “ found her out," and that in future there was no fear she would even take a pin that did not belong to her.
POISONOUS FRUIT. cou - sin
scar - let pois - 0 - nous
un - der - stood walk - ing
sel - dom ber - ries
walk - ed a - round As Tommy and his cousin Jane Were walking down a shady lane, They saw some berries, white and red, That hung around, and overhead. They reached the bough, they bent it down, They made the scarlet fruit their own, And part they eat, and part in play They threw about, and flung away.