Ida's Dress

by the American Sunday-School Union

At one time, when Mrs. Dudley was spending a few days in the city, she went with a friend to call upon a poor woman whom she heard was in great need. This woman had sent a daughter, about eight years old, to school for one day, and then found that she could not spare her; she felt obliged to keep her at home to take care of the baby.

Mrs. Carter—for by this name I shall call her—occupied a house back from the street. The ladies ascended the steps leading to the first floor, and inquired if she lived there. "She is in the basement," was the answer. They descended into the area. It was neatly swept, and in perfect order. "It must be a genteel woman who lives here," remarked Mrs. Benton. They knocked. A voice bade them come in. They opened the door and entered. Mrs. Carter was sewing by a table. By her side stood Georgianna, her oldest child, plainly and neatly dressed. At the other end of the table was a little girl about four years old, whose name I forget, and in the rocking-chair before the stove was a dark-haired babe, quietly sleeping.

The room was neat and tidy. There was a little fire in the stove, but not enough to thoroughly warm the room.

The ladies inquired of Mrs. Carter in regard to her circumstances. They learned that her husband left her last spring, and had gone she knew not where. He was a carpenter by trade, and could earn two dollars a day. She had always done what she could with her needle, and had earned a few dollars a month by binding shoes or doing other sewing. They had lived very comfortably, renting good apartments for eight dollars a month, and knew nothing of want or suffering.

Mrs. Carter was obliged to give up her pleasant rooms, to remove to the basement. She has laboured industriously, whenever she can procure work, to pay her rent, three dollars a month, and to provide food for her children. She has known what it is to be both cold and hungry. She has bought coal by the bushel, and has sometimes been without fire in the dead of winter. Her family have lived principally upon bread and water, and the little ones have cried for food when she had none to give them.

Little Ida is too young to know her mother's sorrow. She is a babe of only a few weeks old, and she sleeps as sweetly in that great rocking-chair as any babe ever slept in a cradle. She is warmly wrapped in a blanket, and does not suffer, although she has scarce a change of dresses.

When Mrs. Dudley returned to her happy home, she told her children about this family, and particularly about the poor babe, who so increased her mother's cares and labours, yet repaying it all by the wealth of maternal love her coming had developed. It was pleasing to see Georgianna lay her face so softly on the infant's, and so gently rock her when her slumbers were disturbed.

Mrs. Dudley's children listened to her story with great interest, and wished to do something for the family. Mary repaired some garments which her mother gave her, and when this was done, she went to her drawer and took out a small piece of calico, which had been given to her to make her doll a dress. She asked her mother if there was enough to make Ida a dress. Mrs. Dudley examined it, and told her there was. So she cut it out for her daughter, and showed her how to make it. This work occupied her several days, for Mary goes to school, and has not much time for sewing. The dress looked very pretty when it was completed. She had embroidered the tiny sleeves with a neat scollop, and had taken great pains to make it strong and neatly.

The next time Mrs. Dudley went to the city, she took several small parcels for Mrs. Carter, who was much pleased with them. None gratified her more than the dress for the baby.

It will always be a pleasant recollection to Mary that she made the heart of this suffering woman happy by sending a dress to her infant. She learned the pleasure of giving, and of exerting herself to do good to others.

If Mrs. Dudley had had the dress made by a seamstress, it would have been equally useful to Mrs. Carter; but Mary would have lost the reward which she now enjoys in the consciousness of relieving the sufferings of the destitute. I hope Mary will always be benevolent, and never grow "weary in well-doing."