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The blow fell suddenly, and the young hus- | to all who trust life's precious freight in frail band and father was stricken down ere the vessels and upon unknown
At the smallest provision had been made for the future, end of three years, her husband, who had stricken down in the morning of his years, ere proved unfortunate in a business venture, his loins were fairly girded for the battle of resolved to go to America. Margaret, now the life. A young, frail, inexperienced woman, weak, exhausted, nervous mother of two now a widow, and three little ones, were left children, had scarcely energy enough left for behind, penniless and friendless.
objection, could she have fully comprehended In a city hot-bed, Margaret Mason grew up all that was involved in such a movement; and daintily. She had been taught the fine arts of so the step was taken. Their destination was dancing, flower-painting, and the like, could Chicago, where Leslie was promised a clerkplay a few pieces on the piano with passable ship in a forwarding house. skill, and had some little knowledge of the In this new world, the young wife and mother French language. From the time she was was lost. A few articles of furniture brought seventeen, she went into company. For the from home, enlarged by some additions made most part, her days passed idly, or in the next at the point of their destination, enabled them thing to idleness, novel-reading ; while ber to commence housekeeping in a small tenement evenings lapsed pleasantly away in making far away in the suburbs, at a rent that would visits or receiving visitors, with now and then consume nearly half of Mr. Leslie's salary. the more exciting diversity of the play, opera, The house was guiltless of modern concert, ball, or party. The twin ideas of use veniences, and the almost helpless young wife and duty came not to distinct perception in her soon found that the new world into which she brain ; she lived to nọ purpose but to enjoy. had intruded was quite as guiltless of other
Was she of wealthy parentage? No. Had aids to comfortable housekeeping. And now, she large expectations in the future ? Nothing with Mrs. Leslie, lise's battle commenced in of the kind. Margaret Mason was an orphan, earnest. Love for her husband and children and dependent on a kind but not wise relative, made strong a sense of duty; and, weak and who brought her up as too many girls are unskilled as she was, she accomplished wonders brought up in our large cities. He gave her a in the way of creating home comforts out of showy superficial education, dressed her as well the slender materials that lay in such unpromisas his means would allow, and put her in the way ing shapes around her. Not half of her time of getting a start in the world by marriage. was she able to retain a servant; and so, in the Young men only just a little better fitted to intervals, her small, delicate hands came in enter upon the stern, hard work of life are rough contact with tea-kettle and washinggenerally won by the small attractions of just board. If the duty was hard, wearisome, and such girls as Margaret Mason. In the present exhausting, the frail yonng woman did not case a clerk, whose moderate salary of two shrink away from it, nor even sit down and fold hundred a year had scarcely met his own wants, her hands to weep for a season.
Love was was the one found captive in the gossamer web very strong in her heart, and, for the sake of of our young enchantress. His name was her beloved ones, she beld not back; and so Albert Leslie.
the little household never lost, in her husband's They were married, and with a small flourish eye, its look of order or air of comfort. And, of trumpets. There were presents, party, if Margaret's face wore often an aspect of givings, and wordy congratulations, and then weariness, or was pale and languid, it showed our young adventurers on the sea of matrimony nothing of peevishness or discontent. The were left to steer their own course in life and strange eyes that caught an occasional glimpse enjoy its sunny days, or do battle amid its of the pale little woman moving about her house storms.
or gliding along on her way to market or the Margaret went forth from the home of her store, guessed nothing adequate as to her daily relative, where she bad been tenderly cared for trials, nor the amount of heroism it required to since the days of childhood—went forth with meet them. her young husband, never again to return. A year after their arrival at Chicago, another Death soon after entered that home, removing child was born, making the number of human its founder and stay, and its members were blossoms three. It was just six months from scattered like shrunken leaves by the winds of this time when Mr. Leslie sickened and died, autumn.
leaving, as we said in the beginning, a young, We will not write of the young bride's first frail, inexperienced woman, and three little sombre experiences. They came, as they come lones, penniless and friendless, Almost literally
was this true, for the salary of Mr. Leslie has | mind will be clearer. I will call in again, and proved barely sufficient to meet their daily wants. then we can arrange about your removal.” He did leaving his family nothing but their The landlord arose, and was passing towards clothes and the scant furniture the house the door, when Mrs. Leslie aroused herself with contained.
a strong effort, and said: "Ob, stay, sir, stay! A little while, the strickeu wife lay stunned No good can come of waiting until to-morrow. and prostrate; the dead cannot wait, and so all / Speak out what is in your mind; I can bear to the solemn ceremonials went on, even to the hear it !" burial. A few sympathizing neighbours offered The landlord turned and resumed bis seat. words of comfort that came with no meaning “Of course, sir I am not able to pay the rent to the mourner's ears, and then one after another of this house, for I have no income. But where retirerl, and the bereaved woman was left alone can I go? what can I do ?” with her orphaned little ones. Bewilderment “ If you can't afford to pay your rent, of course succeeded. The very stay and support of their I can't afford to let you live in my house. I lives had been suddenly removed, and what should soon go the dogs at that rate." now remained for them but to lie down and
Somethiog of the roughness of the man's daperish by the way? The blackness of darkness ture was apparent in his manner. It was as gathered over the mind of Mrs. Leslie. She well, perhaps, for it acted as a spur to rouse the looked upwards, there no light; she young widow's feelings, and thus give her strained her eyes into the surrounding gloom, thoughts their needed activity. “I have no but could trace no path into which her feet wish to remain bere, sir,” she replied, with forced might venture.
calmness and some dignity of manner. “I would From this state the sharp spur of inevitable sooner die with my children than live on chanecessity quickened her half-stupefied mind rity. Give me a few days to look around, and into intense activity. Just one week from the I will then move away, and restore your proday on which her husband died, Mrs. Leslie perty into your bands. How much rent is now had a visit from the owner of the house in Que?” wbich she lived. The rent of this house was "A month's rent is all the claim I have, but twenty-six pounds a year, and, as the landlord that I will cheerfully waive under the circumhad no outside security for its payment, he stances; and beyond this, ma'am, if you want thought it prudent to look somewhat closely my aid or advice in anything, they will be cheerinto the widow's condition and prospects. He fully given. You have more furniture here than was a coarse, straightforward man, who loved you will need in a smaller house. Sell what money, and knew both how to gain and how to you can spare ; it will bring a good price, and take care of it, but was not, for all that, heart- thus secure a little to subsist upon until you less. After speaking to Mrs. Leslie of her late can get into the way of earning something. bereavement in as appropriate terms as he knew What can you do ?” The straightforward landhow to use, he put the abrupt question : lord's mind went right to first principles-to the
“What are your prospects, madam?" “What can you do?" as the only hopeful basis
“Prospects ? How? What?” She did not of living in the world. clearly understand him.
Mrs. Leslie was silent. What could she do? “Business is business, madam," said the Ah, there was indeed the great question. Her landlord, and I am a plain, staightforward music was forgotten; she had not been in the
What I wish to know is, whether you way of practicing since her marriage. Her are in circumstances to pay the rent of this French had been a mere superficial ornament; house; it is, as you know, twenty-six pounds a she could not teach French. Painting and year.'
drawing were a part of her routine at school ; Mrs. Leslie's face grew pale instantly, and she but what she had learned of these was of no gasped once or twice for breath.
practical use to her now. She was a trifle “I have not come to trouble you, ma’am,"
,” skilled in fine needle-work and embroidery; said the landlord, whose rough beart was plain sewing she had learned since she becaine touched by the image of distress before him, a mother. Her thoughts passed all these re“but to speak of things as they are, and thus, sources in hurried review, but there was no may-be, save you from some trouble in the promise in them. future. Try to compose yourself, and look the "What can you do?” The landlord repeated present right in the face. The rent of this house his question. is a twenty-six pounds ; if you are able to pay it, “I can trust in God," said the desponding and wish to remain where you are, I have not widow, with as much firmness of voice as she a word of objection to make. How is it, Mrs. could throw into the words. Leslie ?"
“A poor dependence without effort, let me “God help me!" ejaculated the miserable tell you. God 'helps those who helps themwoman, bursting into tears. “I am penniless selves." and friendless !"
“And those who are willing to help themThe landlord waited until the poor widow selves also.” grew calm, then he said: "I will not press “ It is about the same thing," said the landthis matter upon you to-day. Think over your lord. situation and prospects, and to-morrow your “I am willing to help myself," spoke out
Mrs. Leslie, with firmness, “and I will trust “You can sew, of course; all women know God for the means of doing it."
how to use the needle." “Now you are getting into the right way; “Yes.” Faintly. How little hope is there hold on in this direction, and you need not fear in the needle for a mother and three children! nor be faint-hearted."
“ But that will not do as a dependence; the “I thank you, sir, for words of hope and en- confinement would soon kill a weak little body couragement, and gratefully accept your kind like you. What do you know? Can you teach offer of aid and advice in this my great ex
a school?” tremity. I see nothing clear before me-all is Teach a school! Margaret Leslie teach a darkness and uncertainty. But I will look up, school! The young widow looked at her striving for patience and hope, and keep my questioner in a kind of bewildered surprise. hands ready for the first employment that offers.” “Of course you can," said the landlord.
“That's it,” said the landlord, cheerfully replying to his own query. His idea touching “And now your first work is t6 decide what the qualifications of a teacher did not compass articles of furniture you will keep, and what you a very wide range of acquirements. “You will sell. Reserve enough to furnish two or know how to read and to write, to do sums in three small rooms, acd turn the rest into money. addition, subtraction, and multiplication? Very Don't brood over your trouble.”
well. Little children know less, and, if you There came into the face of Mrs. Leslie a more can teach them these things, you are fit to set hopeful aspect. “I will make the selection to- up a school. It strikes me that the best thing day,” she said.
for you to do is to begin one for small children. “ Very well. Shall I call to-morrow with an No doubt I can get you some scholars. What auctioneer, and write out an inventory of all do you say?". you wish to dispose of?"
Thanks, from my heart, for your kind This was coming still closer to the hard re- interest !” replied Mrs. Leslie, with tearality of things, and her sensitive spirit shrunk brimming eye. “That is all I can say now. back and shuddered. An auction! She had But I will think over, carefully, what you have not thought of this broad exposure of herself to suggested. I must do something; but when the world.
I do begin I wish to begin right, so as to waste “ Would not a private sale be as well ?” sug. no time.” gested Mrs. Leslie, in a faltering voice.
“Spoken to the purpose !" said the landlord, No," replied the landlord ; you might sell encouragingly, "spoken right to the purpose. a few articles in this way, after a great deal of One thing at a time, of course, so far as doing trouble."
is concerned. And the first thing to be done is “Do, sir, as you think best.” Mrs. Leslie selling off superfluous furniture. But, while could not keep back the sadness from her voice. doing to-day's work, it is always best to be "I will make my selection by to-morrow.” planning a little about to-morrow's work. That
When the landlord called on the following is my way.” day, according to promise, with an auctioneer, Teaching a school! At the first presentation be found that Mrs. Leslie had completed her of this idea to Mrs. Leslie's inind, it looked selection of articles to be sold. The inventory preposterous." I need, rather, to go to school was soon made, and a time appointed for the myself,” she said, musing upon the subject, sale; this time was a week in advance, in order after the landlord departed. to give opportunity for procuring and removing “Ah!" she sighed, " if I were only fitted for to a new home. After the auctioneer retired, this service--if my education had been more the landlord said, in his straightforwaad way : thorough !"
“You have been thinking, of course, as to And then she wept, as a depressing sense of what you will do after going from here ?" her ignorance weighed down her sad heart. “I have.”
Still the image of that little school-room and “Well, has your mind reached any fair those bright-faced children kept rising in her conclusion ?"
thought; and the more she looked at it, the “No, sir.” There was an effort to speak pleasanter it seemed. Then she began to recall firmly, but a tremour in the young widow's the earlier days of her childhood, the schoolvoice betrayed the doubt and fear in her heart. days so well remembered by all, and dwelt on “ As yet, all looks dark. I am a stranger here, every minute particular. She was, for a time, a and friendless ; I am young, inexperienced, and little girl, conning her first lessons; she saw her timid, and with but small knowledge of the teacher, observed her manner of proceeding, ways of the world. I have thought and thought and progressed with her from the first lessons until my brain seemed on fire. Ob, sir, my heart in A B C on towards the more advanced period trembles and shrinks back ; the trial is 100 when writing-lessons came, and the slate sucgreat, the burden too beavy."
ceeded to the well-worn spelling-book. A little " It is the brave heart that conquers," said light began to dawn. The A B C, the spelling, the landlord. “Never counsel with Fear ; he the reading and writing lessons, these she might is a bad adviser. Hope and Courage are our teach. And as to what was beyond, could she best friends. Let me repeat the question I put not herself become a learner, and furnish herself to you yesterday—What can you do?"
with the needed skill as her pupils advanced ? Mrs. Leslie was silent.
“But what shall I do with Katy and the
baby?” How like the creation of a dream did | clinging to her garments, touched the hearts of the almost pleasant image of a school-room the three men, unused, as they were, to softer fade from her mind at this question! Katy was moods. two years old, and the baby six months. What “And so it is over?" she said, speaking with could the mother do with them in school hours ? forced calmness. How rapidly was she school. Edward was in his fourth year-he could come ing herself into self-control and endurance ! in with other children; but, during the three “Yes, it is over, madam," replied the landlord, morning and three afternoon hours, what would “and well over. The sale is better than we become of Katy and the baby?
anticipated. You will have nearly a hundred “ It won't do, it won't do!” And the poor pounds. little woman shook her head sadly. “I cannot “ Thank God!" fell from the widow's lips. undertake a school."
The sum was so much more than she had hoped And so she was afloat in her plans again. to realize. It was speedily paid over to her. Nearly all of the night followed did she lie As the last coin was placed in her hands, the awake, searching about id her troubled thoughts landlord said: for the ways and means of getting bread for her “Our friend here (glancing at the auctioneer] Jittle ones.
But no other suggestion offered, has told me of a house down in the city, ocand, at last, she came back to the point from cupied by a clever old couple, who have more which she started—the little imaginary school- room than they want, and who have been talkroom. Then a quiet, as if a long and weary ing for some time about letting two or three journey were over, settled upon her mind, and apartments. The location is just the one for a she fell asleep.
school. They own the house, and so there The sale day came. It was one of painful could be no trouble as to underletting, and no trial to Mrs. Leslie, who, with a portion of her fear of being left with a whole house on your reserved furniture, remained shut up in one of hands. You see, madam, that I look at things the chambers, while the unsympathizing crowd all round. Shall I call upon them, and see how trampled from room to room, and the auc- they feel about it?" tioneer's voice rolled, and rattled, and crashed There seemed no other way for Mrs. Leslie. down at intervals, through the apartments a All things pointed to a school, miserably furlittle while before kept sacred to domestic quiet. nished as she was for such a work, and even Who can blame her, if she wept throughout more unfavourably circumstanced as to things the trying scene, for now she was feeling the external, having a babe at her breast, and two first rude shock of that world forth into which little children besides, themselves almost babes. she was about going with her children, alone, What time bad she to give to the unyielding friendless, and almost destitute? For her to go duties of a school-teacher? “If you please," she was, and enter upon the battle of life, resh It is always best to strike while the iron is quired more heroism than Napoleon displayed hot,” said the landlord. I will see these people in moving to the field of Waterloo. He had at once." his great army and the prestige of a hundred An hour passed. victories for inspiration; she bad- what? Not “It's all settled." The kind-hearted man a single victorious antecedent to flush her heart spoke cheerily, as he came in. “They hung with the hope of conquest. No, she must go fire a little, but, when I promised a year's rent forward, though her enemies seemed an army of in advance, or to become myself responsible for giants; and strike with her feeble hands, if she a year, they had nothing more to say against it
. fell bleeding and death-stricken at the first You are to have the front room in the second shock. Was not this heroism? Ay, and of storey for a school, the room above for a bedthe noblest kind; for it was born, not or am- room, and the use of the kitchen. The rent will bition, but of love. No jewelled crown spar- be twenty-six pounds a year. What do you say kled in her eyes as she looked upward to heights to that?” of human glory; she saw not Fame lifting his “Only, may God bless the widow's friend!” trumpet to sound her triumphs so loud that answered Mrs. Leslie, in a choking voice. coming ages should hear them; but, in feeble- “I have ordered a waggon," said the landlord. ness and in darkness, moved onward because “Hark! it is coming up now. They are clearduty was to be done, baring her defenceless ing out the rooms, and you are to go into them bosom to the swift-winged and sharp-piercing at once. Never mind about house-cleaning." arrows. If this were not heroism, then the He saw what was in her mind. “That was all word is a mockery.
done a week ago, and you'll find everything in All was at last over. The sale had ended, and order. There's no use in your staying here over the eager purchasers had removed the property another night.” which, in this brief time, had changed owners. Mrs. Leslie saw differently from that, howThere was a tap at her door, and Mrs. Leslie ever, and gave such good reasons for delaying opened it to the auctioneer and his attendant, the removal until the next morning, that the who, with the landlord, were all that remained landlord had to give a reluctant acquiescence. of the crowd which had filled the house. Her On the following day, Mrs. Leslie turned pale cheeks and wet eyes, as she stood with her with a heavy heart from the now rifled and desobaby in her arms, and two little ones timidly 'late home where a husband's love had sheltered and guarded her, and went out into the world “What say you?" The landlord pressed to struggle alone, in feebleness and ignorance. hard the question.
The new home was soon in order, for it did “ That I will die with my children, but not not take long to adjust the small remnant of part with them.” worldy goods that remained in the widow's pos- The landlord was disappointed and offended. session. Then her thoughts went forward again, Losing patience, he said, roughly, “Very well, in troubled strife with the future. How was madam, you can paddle your own canoe, for all she to keep a scbool, that only resource which I care." had yet presented itself?
And he went stalking from the house, and On the day after Mrs. Leslie's removal, her never came near her again. former landlord—whose interest in her could not Night seemed to have fallen suddenly, after a die out suddenly (indeed, he had pledged him- dark and tearful day. The only friend upon self to aid her in getting up a school, and he whom Mrs. Leslie had leaned, with any hope of was not the man to let his words fall fruitless on being sustained in her efforts, had now turned the air)-called in to see how matters stood and from her in anger ; and she felt like one, in to offer a little further advice. Looking with a passing over some fearfnl chasm, was conscious careful eye, as was his habit, to such things as that the slender plank was yielding beneath her touched his own interest, his first suggestion tread. Mrs. Waylahd, the woman into whose was, that the year's rent be paid in advance, house she had removed, came up to her room seeing that the means to do so was at hand. about half-an-hour after the landlord went “Then,” said be, “your mind will be easy as to away ; the unusual stillness there had attracted a home, for that will be secured for a year.” her notice. She tapped at the door lightly, but, He did not say that this pleasant arrangement as no response came from within, she pushed it would take away all obligation from him, in I open, and entered. She found Mrs. Leslie case there should be a failure to pay the rent. sitting with Katy in her arms, and her face bent But no matter; he was not perfect, and let him down and hidden. The baby lay asleep in its bave praise for acting kindly up to his best cradle, while Edward sat playing with some ability, for he had been, so far, a true friend to paper soldiers on the floor. The only one who the almost helpless widow.
noticed her entrance was the little boy, who To this suggestion Mrs. Leslie offered no de- looked up to her with a pleased smile. murrer; it was in accordance with her own “Mrs. Leslie !" But there was no movement views.
of the bowed figure. “Mrs. Leslie!” She spoke “And now," said the other, when this point now in a louder tone, at the same time laying was settled, rubbing his hands together, and her hand upon Mrs. Leslie's shoulder, looking particularly pleased, “I've been work. With a start, Mrs. Leslie raised her head, ing for you in a new direction. There's an ex. and looked at Mrs. Wayland in a bewildered cellent family living in one of my houses, a man and his wife, who have no children of their own. .“ Are you lil ?” asked the latter, in a kind I've been talking to them about you, and per- voice. There was something in the voice that suading them to take one of your children and went stealing down into the sufferer's heart, adopt it as their own.”
“ Not ill, but in despair," she replied, An instant pallor came over the widow's face, mournfully. and she drew her arm with almost a vice- “There is a bright side to every cloud,” said like clasp around little Katy, who was leaning Mrs. Wayland. against her.
“ Not to the cloud that has fallen over me,” “The lady is coming here to see you about it was the sadly-spoken answer. Katy, who was to-morrow. I think she will prefer the little laying upon her lap, now raised herself up; as girl.”
she did so, her mother drew her tightly to her For a few moments Mrs. Leslie struggled bosom, and said, in a half wild way, Give with her feelings. Then she said, in a low, my darling to a stranger ! Never! never ! I husky voice, “You are very kind, sir, but I will die with and for my children, but never give cannot part with my children.”
them up." “ But reflect, madam," urged the man; “No one wishes to take away your children,” “think of your condition and of the child's said Mrs. Wayland, who began to think that the good. You will be wholly relieved from poor
woman's mind was disordered. the burden of her support, and she will pass, “Yes, they do; they want my Katy," was by adoption, into one of the best homes in our replied. city. The family is rich, and she will grow up « Who wants her?” as an only child. I know that it must be a trial A lady is coming to-morrow." for any mother; but then we must consult the • What lady?" good of our children, as well as our own feelings.” “I don't know her name, but Mr. Lawson
Mrs. Leslie bent down her head until her face has been talking to her; and, because I told lay hidden among the soft curls that clustered him that I would die with children rather around the temples, brow, and neck of her dar- than part with them, he went off in anger, sayling Katy. She was not debating the propo- ing that I might get along as best I could.” sition, but opening her heart deeper, that ihe * Mr. Lawson is well enough in his way, but child might get a more secure place there, he isn't all the world by a great deal,” said the