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She slept in the summer on door-steps, or under an archway, or under a cart in Covent Garden, where she often fed on the refuse vegetables and fruit that she picked off the ground. She was always in rags; but when they quite fell off, some kind person gave her some more. She was a strong, active girl, and the mistress of a gin-shop took a fancy to her, and told her she would give her a basket of oranges which she might hawk about the streets, and bring her what she got for them, and in return she would find her a bed, and odds and ends of food.
Betty was delighted, and managed to sell the oranges well. The room in which she slept was small, and sometimes ten or twelve people were huddled together there, on heaps of straw, and to her food her mistress often added a drop of gin to make up for a short meal. But poor Betty had known no better life, till one day she was selling oranges to a lady in Great Russell Street, who asked her where she lived. She told her, and the lady, a Mrs. Symes, found that Betty was paying her mistress a great deal more than the worth of her keep. So she told her to give notice to leave, and promised to lend her money enough to buy a basket of her own, and oranges of her own, which she should repay her by degrees.
The gin-shop mistress was very angry, but Betty left her. First Mrs. Symes sent her maid with her to one of the penny bathing places, and for the first time in her life she knew what a good wash was like. Then some decent clean clothes were ready for her, and then at one of the new model lodging-houses
as mund Mr a pooling a
she got a bed in a room with two respectable women for 1... 6d. a week, and a good meal for 3d. at a dining-hall. She hardly knew herself, and wondered how she had lived in such dirt and misery before. Sunday used to be the best day for selling oranges, but Mrs. Symes persuaded her that for mind and body too she had better keep her Sundays.
Even horses are the worse for never having a rest all the seven days, much more a poor girl who is always on her feet. And Mrs. Symes found that the horses knew as much as Betty did about right and wrong, about the God who made her, the Saviour who died for her, the Bible that was written for her. She had never been inside a church, and could not have understood a word she heard if she had. She asked Mrs. Symes's servants to let her go with them to Westminster Abbey, which was near. She liked the music and the painted windows, and wondered at the large building, but that was all. But Betty was grateful to Mrs. Symes, and when she advised her to learn to read, and found for her an adult evening-school, she gladly went, and perhaps all she heard and all she read struck her much more than it does those children who have known it all their lives. It is certain that she became a very good girl ; she repaid Mrs. Symes, saved money, was able to set up a shop near Oxford Street, and married a man who keeps a cab, and brings all his earnings home to his wife.
THE CONCERT IN THE WOOD.
A CONCERT once by Mr. Spring
Was given in the wood; He begged both old and young to come,
And all to sing who could.
Her favourite ballad sang,
So clear her sweet voice rang.
Come lately from abroad.
And so it was encored.
His style was quite his own.
But all too soon was gone.
Would they get up a glee
Who sing so prettily?
No doubt would take a part;
And sings with all his heart. Now came a much-expected guest,
Young Lady Nightingale; So late, that everybody feared
She really meant to fail.
At first she said she could not sing,
She was afraid to try ;
Was filled with melody.
The guests were charmed, and begged for more.
She said she could not stay;
And then she went away.
Began with Mrs. Thrush :
To gather round the bush.
And so they sang, and still sing on;
And all who music love,
The concert in the grove.
All guests are welcome there,
In joys like these to share.
THE CLEVEREST GIRL IN THE SCHOOL.
ALICE WILSON was the cleverest girl in Thornhope School. She was always at the top of her class; and not being at all shy, was ready to answer every question at the Examinations, more readily than the others; so she got more notice than was good for her, for she began to think herself quite a wonder. Her father and mother were good, industrious people, but no scholars. Learning was not so much the fashion when they were young, and they had had to work very hard to bring up their family. Alice had a younger sister, Bessie, who was as slow as she was quick, who was as shy as she was forward ; so she had no one in her own family to be compared to herself, and she in a manner tried to rule them all, in a way that often vexed her parents.
One day when she came in from school, her mother said, “ Ally, Mr. Franklin's maid says they must have their clean things home to-night, as they are going from home suddenly to-morrow. I've been slaving at them since six o'clock, and have got them done. Now would you, my girl, take the barrow and wheel them up to Franklin's for me ?”
« Certainly not,” said Alice, sitting down and taking out her books; “I have my home lessons to learn. If Franklin's people want their clothes they must send for them, if you are too tired to take them.”
Now it was not right of Mrs. Wilson to allow Alice to talk in this way; but she was always rather afraid of her clever daughter, and said :
“Well, I will have a cup of tea, and I dare say then I shall feel rested and able to take them, as you say you cannot. I have promised they shall have them.”
“Oh!” said little Bessie,“ do make two bundles, mother, and let me carry them, one before tea, and one after ; do let me."