A GIRLS STORY OF FACTORY LIFE
By MARGARET E. WINSLOW
A. L. BURT COMPANY, PUBLISHERS
By Congregational Sunday School and Publishing Society.
To the many boys and girls who are in early years earning an honorable
support for themselves, or else assisting their parents by working in
factories; to the multitudes of young church members, who may be glad of
some practically helpful suggestions in surmounting the difficulties and
resisting the temptations incident to their new lives; to mill-owners,
who feel their solemn responsibility, as in the sight of God, for the
intellectual and spiritual welfare of their operatives; and chiefly to
the young Christian manufacturer who has been the model from which the
picture of "Mr. James" has been copied,—this story, whose incidents are
mostly true ones, is dedicated.
That the Holy Spirit may make use of it to inculcate in young hearts a
sense of honorable independence, a conviction of the dignity of
faithfully performed work, and, above all, an earnest and irrevocable
choice of God's blessed service and an entire committal of their ways to
him, is the sincere prayer of
SAUGERTIES, July 1, 1885.
A NEW DEPARTURE.
"But, mother, it isn't as if I were going away from home, like the Lloyd
girls; you might have a right to cry if that were the case."
"I know, dear; it's all right, and I ought to be very thankful; but I'm
a foolish woman. I can't bear to think of my little girl, whom I have
guarded so tenderly, going among all those girls and men, and fighting
her way in life."
"I don't think I shall be much of a fighter," laughed Katie, looking at
her diminutive hands; "and why is it any worse to go among the boys and
girls in the factory than among the boys and girls in school? You never
"That was different—you weren't doing it for money. O me! what would I
have thought when I married your father if any one had told me that his
child, his girl child, would ever have to earn her bread!"
"Well, mother, I won't go," said the girl, her bright looks fading away,
"if you don't want me to; but I don't know what Mr. Sanderson will
think, he tried so hard to get me into the mill, and it was such a favor
from Mr. Mountjoy. You said you were very thankful."
"So I was, so I am; but—but you don't understand, and perhaps it's
better you should not. I'll try not to grumble."
This was promising more than Mrs. Robertson was able to perform perhaps,
for she was a chronic and inveterate grumbler. But she had some excuse
in the present circumstances, for Katie was, as she said, her baby, and
the "apple of her eye." Married when quite young to the handsome and
intelligent young village doctor, she certainly had not expected ever to
be placed in a position where her children, her girls at least, would
need to earn their own bread. But in a few short years the doctor died
of a contagious disease he had taken from one of his patients, and as he
had not yet begun to accumulate anything, his young widow was left with
her three children to struggle along as best she could. How she had done
it God and herself only knew. The little house was her own, the sole
patrimony left by her own father. The horse and buggy, the medical
library and valuable professional instruments, medicines, etc., were
sold at a fair valuation; and the money thus secured, deposited in the
bank, had served as a last resource whenever the barrel of meal failed
or the cruse of oil ran dry. For the rest, Mrs. Robertson was employed
by her neighbors to help turn and put down carpets, cover furniture,
etc. etc., light jobs requiring judgment and skill rather than strength,
for which her friends, who never placed her in a menial capacity, gladly
paid double the sum they would to any one else. She was also a capital
nurse, and in this position rendered herself very valuable in many
households, and for such services she was even more generously
remunerated; so that somehow she managed to keep her head above water
while her children were small, and feed, clothe, and send them to school
as they grew older.
Her children were, of course, the one source of consolation left to the
poor widow, and many a long evening's work was both shortened and
lightened by golden dreams of their future prosperity and success.
When her eldest boy Eric was twelve, and when Alfred, the second child,
was only ten, a friend made interest with Mr. Sanderson, superintendent
of the bookbindery, auxiliary to the Squantown Paper Mills, to give the
two boys steady employment, and since that time, four years ago, their
earnings, small but certain, had greatly helped in the family expenses.
Both were noble, manly fellows, with, as yet, no bad habits. They
brought their mother all that they earned, and were quite content to
pass their evenings with her and their little sister. Katie, who was now
thirteen, had always attended the public school in the village, of
course helping her mother with the housework and sewing. She was a
delicate little creature, small for her years, but bright and
intelligent, a general favorite with the village children as well as
with her Sunday-school teacher, Miss Etta Mountjoy, who was not so
very many years older than herself.
Katie was a very lady-like looking girl, and did not seem fitted to do
very hard work, nor to mix among rough people, but she was an
independent little thing who knew very well how poor her mother was and
how hard both she and her brothers had to work. She knew that her
breakfasts, dinners, and suppers cost something, and that it took money
to buy the good shoes and neat, whole dresses in which her mother always
kept her dressed, and she resolved in her own wise little head to find
some way of contributing to the family stock. It was some time before
she saw her way clear to do this, but at last she took counsel of a
school-fellow whose sister worked in the folding-room of the Squantown
Paper Mills and found that even a young girl might earn considerable in
this way. So, without telling any one at home of her plans, she, one
evening, presented herself before Mr. Sanderson and requested to be
taken into the bindery.
"What can you do, little puss?" said this gentleman, quite surprised.
"You look about large enough to play with dolls, like my Nina."
"I'm almost fourteen," said Katie, drawing herself up to her full height
and trying to look sedate. "I'm two years older than Nina; I'm as old as
your Bertie, Mr. Sanderson, and I must make some money."
"Must you, indeed?" said he, beginning to be more interested. "Don't I
know your face? Let me see. Why, it can't be—yes, it is Katie
Robertson! How time flies! It seems to me only yesterday that your
father died, and you were a baby; but Bertie was one, too, then, that's
a fact. How time does fly, to be sure! So you want to get into the
bindery where your brothers are, I suppose?" Katie nodded. "Well, now,"
continued he, "it's most unfortunate, but there isn't a vacancy
anywhere; we have five or six applicants now waiting for a chance. Why
don't you try the mill?"
"The mill!" said Katie, "the paper-mill? But I don't know any one there;
how could I go and ask strangers?"
"I think you're brave enough to ask any one," said Mr. Sanderson. "I
suppose you'd find it hard, though, and perhaps no one would believe
that you were old enough or strong enough to work. Your looks are
against you, little one; and then, Mr. Mountjoy did not know your father
as I did; he came here afterward. Let me see. Perhaps I might have some
influence. Will you trust your case in my hands?" And, as the girl
nodded, he continued: "Come here about this time to-morrow evening, and
I will report progress. Perhaps I may have some good news for you, but
don't be too sure. It isn't so easy to get into the mill either; there
are always a great many applicants. You'll come?"
"Yes, sir," said Katie, and went away in a state of disappointed
uncertainty. It was not quite so easy to earn money as she had supposed.
The little girl looked very mysterious all teatime, and threw out
several hints that quite mystified her brothers about Mr. Sanderson and
the bindery. But no one guessed her secret, and the next afternoon, just
as she was beginning to think of putting on her hat and running down to
get her answer, who should come into the gate but Mr. Sanderson himself.
Mrs. Robertson was greatly frightened when she saw him. She was one of
those persons who always look on the dark side of things, and she feared
her boys had got into trouble and would perhaps lose their situations.
She trembled so that she could hardly put on the widow's cap, in which
she always appeared before strangers (although it was now six years
since the doctor had left her and gone home to heaven), and said to her
"That's always our luck! Just as soon as things seem to be going
straight with us, some terrible misfortune is sure to happen; we're the
most unfortunate family in the world."
The poor lady forgot that, with the one exception of her husband's
death, her life had been one of unmingled, as well as undeserved,
happiness; and even in that loss her three children had been spared to
her, friends had been raised up to help her, and there had never been a
day when she and her children had not had enough plain food to eat and
plain clothes to wear. It is thus that we are all apt to dishonor God by
dwelling upon the one thing which in his providence he has seen fit to
take away, and forgetting to thank him for all the many other blessings
he has given us.
But Katie was full of expectation and suppressed delight. She was the
opposite of her mother, and always expected good news, and she felt sure
that Mr. Sanderson would not have taken the trouble to come himself,
except to tell her that he had secured a place for her. Her eyes danced
as she let him in, and she looked inquiringly in his face. But he said
"Good-evening, Katie. I would like to see your mother a few moments." So
she ushered him into the "front room," so seldom used, and went to
summon her mother, waiting outside the door till she should herself be
called in to the consultation.
When Mr. Sanderson told Mrs. Robertson that he had called to say that he
had been successful in his application to Mr. Mountjoy, who had agreed
to take Katie into the "rag-room" of the paper-mill, in consideration of
his interest in her mother, she was completely taken by surprise and
inclined to be offended with both gentlemen for their interference, as
she thought it, with her business; but when she heard that the
application came from the child herself, while greatly surprised, she
could not but feel grateful to them for their trouble, and expressed
herself so, while she nevertheless decidedly declined to allow Katie to
accept the position, saying she was altogether too young and too
delicate, and that she would not have her daughter disgraced by working
for her living.
"For the matter of that," said Mr. Sanderson, "I shall be glad to have
my Bertie take the place if you don't want it for Katie. I have a large
family to bring up, and I want my girls and boys both to be independent.
I hadn't thought of it for Bertie quite yet, but your Katie reminded me
last night of how old she is; and I see she is none too young to begin."
This put a little different face on the matter, for Mrs. Sanderson and
Mrs. Robertson had been intimate friends when girls, in precisely the
same rank in life, although one had married a doctor and the other the
overseer of the bookbindery. Moreover, Mr. Sanderson was known to be
very well off and quite able—had he judged it best—to bring up his
girls in idleness, as useless fine ladies. Perhaps it would not be such
a disgrace, after all, and they did sorely need the money. Katie was not
dressed as her father's child should be, and toil as she might, even
with the boys' wages the widow could not make more than sufficed to keep
up the little home. Then, too, her child would have to do something for
herself when she grew up; she would have no one to look to but herself,
and though teaching would be perhaps a more genteel way of support, it
was a very laborious one, and would make it necessary to go away from
home, as the Lloyd girls were going to do, and to remain away for
several years, first at some higher institution of learning and then at
the Normal School, and where would the money come from to pay the
tuition fees, traveling expenses, and board bills?
All this passed through Mrs. Robertson's mind as Mr. Sanderson reasoned
with her and showed her the foolishness of her objections, and finally
the impatient Katie was called in, and informed that she might "try it
for a while"; and then the visitor was thanked for his trouble, and
took his leave.
This all happened a week ago. The intervening time had been spent in
putting Katie's simple wardrobe in order and in making home arrangements
by which Mrs. Robertson would not miss her daughter more than she could
help, in those various little services which she had been wont to
render. The last day had now come; to-morrow the new life was to begin,
and Katie was clearing up the breakfast things for the last time when
the conversation with which our story commences took place.
"I wish it was not in the rag-room," said Mrs. Robertson, by-and-by,
when Katie, having finished her dishes and swept up the room, drew her
seat to her mother's side and took up her work—the ruffle of the last
of the six mob-caps she was to wear at her work.
"Why?" said her daughter, to whom the factory was just now a sort of
enchanted palace, any one of whose rooms was delightful to contemplate.
"It's such a low, dirty place, I'm told, and there's so many common
women and girls there."
"Well, I needn't talk to them, I suppose. I needn't be common, at any
rate, and I can't get dirty in those great long-sleeved aprons and these
nice little caps. You don't know how smart I'm going to be, and won't
you be proud of your big girl when she brings home her first
three-dollar bill, all earned in one week? Eric will see that a girl's
worth something, after all, and Alfred sha'n't make fun of me any more."
Mrs. Robertson did not say anything else just now; she did not like to
be always checking the exuberance of her child's spirits with the dull
forebodings of her own, but she could not see the paper-mill through the
same halo that invested it in Katie's eyes. She knew there were snares
and temptations, besides disagreeable and hard work to be met and
encountered there, and she feared that the child's future disappointment
would be proportioned to the brightness of her present hopes. Still, as
the matter was determined upon, she knew it was right to make the best
of it, and she tried to talk pleasantly and at least seem to sympathize
with her daughter's enthusiasm.
So passed the day, and at night when the boys came home they were
called upon to listen for the hundredth time to all the rose-colored
plans, and were pressed to declare that there could be nothing in the
world more delightful than working in a factory.
But the boys could not see it in that light any more than their mother.
They were as content to work as are most men and boys who seem to take
it for granted that it is in the course of nature for them to earn their
bread by the sweat of their brow, but they had been at it long enough to
have lost the sense of novelty and to understand that it was work and
not play which their sister was undertaking.
"Won't you be sick of it!" said Alfred, in answer to one of Katie's
outbursts, "and long, when Saturday comes, to go out nutting with the
girls, or off on a hay-ride, or something! You'll wish you were free
before you've been a slave many months, or I'm no prophet."
"Well, she shall be free if she wants to," said Eric, kindly. "Our only
little sister sha'n't work if she don't want to; we can take care of
her, Alfred, can't we?"
"But I do want to work," said Katie; "I know I sha'n't get tired, or if
I do get tired of the work, I sha'n't of getting the money; for, boys, I
mean to be a rich, independent woman, and help take care of mother. You
needn't suppose that I'm going to be dependent upon you."
"All right, young lady," said Alfred, "only I think you'll sing a
different tune before many months are over."
"The tune you ought to sing just now, children," said Mrs. Robertson,
"is 'Good-night.' You all have to go to work very early, and Katie is
not used to it. Good-night, darling, and don't forget to ask God to
bless you and shield you in your new undertaking."
"I asked him that night to make Mr. Mountjoy listen to Mr. Sanderson and
give me the place," said Katie, with a rising color; "don't you think he
heard me and answered my prayer? It seems as though he had just made it
all straight and plain. I feel just like thanking him to-night; and,
mother, don't you worry so much. Don't you think Jesus is strong enough
to take care of me anywhere if I ask him to?"
"Yes, indeed," said the mother, almost ashamed of her forebodings, and
rebuked, as she had many a time been, by the bright, hopeful faith of
her child. Surely when she looked at the bright, happy, healthy faces of
her children, she too had ample cause for thankfulness, and for
continued trust in the divine love which had carried her safely through
so many emergencies and had promised never to leave or forsake her or
"Hallo, Katie, wake up, wake up!" and Eric rattled the knob of his
sister's door. But he was compelled to do so many times before he heard
a sleepy "What's the matter?"
"Matter? Why, it's high time you were up if you mean to get to the
factory this morning."
"It's the middle of the night," said Katie, yawning.
"Indeed, it is not. It's after five o'clock, and work begins at
half-past six. You haven't a moment to spare if you want to dress
yourself, get your breakfast, and get to the mill in time; it's farther
off than the bindery. Come, be a brave girl, and jump up quickly."
Thus adjured, the little girl jumped out of bed—but how cold and dark
it was! although Eric had left the lamp in the hall outside. One of
Katie's failings—not an uncommon one among girls and boys—was a great
dislike to getting up early in the morning, and her mother had always
humored her in the matter, getting up herself and giving the boys their
breakfast early, and then waking her little girl just in time to eat her
own and get to school at nine o'clock. Even then it was sometimes a
The young work-woman had not included the necessity of getting up so
very early in the morning as one of the many anticipated delights of her
new position. This first taste of it seemed, on the contrary, quite a
hardship. Still, when she was once out of bed, there was a certain
romance in dressing by lamplight, and she knelt down by her bedside to
offer her morning prayer, with a strange feeling of mingled awe and
Katie Robertson was a Christian girl, and was really desirous to please
the blessed Saviour who had done so much for her. She could not remember
the time when she did not love him; but for the last few years, since
she had grown older and begun to understand things better, she had felt
a longing desire to be like him and to please him in her life and
actions. She found time to open her little Bible this morning and read
one or two verses by the light of the lamp. They were these:—
"In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths";
"Whether, therefore, ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to
the glory of God," and "I can do all things through Christ who
And then she prayed earnestly that she might in these "ways" upon which
she was entering always "acknowledge" God, be faithful to her work, do
it "to the glory of God," and have the strength which the Lord Jesus
Christ has promised to give to those who ask him, to resist temptation
and stand up for truth and righteousness in the new life which lay
before her. She prayed, also, that her heavenly Father would give her
some work to do for him among her companions in the mill, and then she
Breakfast was all ready, and it seemed quite funny to eat it by
lamplight; but by the time it was over it was pretty light outside, and
when, warmly wrapped up, Katie left the house with her brothers there
was a rosy flush over the snow which sparkled and glistened, and the
young factory-girl set out in high spirits for her first day's work.
The boys escorted her as far as the great gates, where a good many other
girls and boys were waiting among a crowd of men and women, and then ran
back to be in time at the bindery, which was a little nearer home.
It was rather cold waiting outside, and, if the truth must be told, our
little girl felt just a trifle homesick among so many strangers, for as
yet she had not seen a familiar face, and something seemed to rise in
her throat that she found hard to swallow; but just as she felt that she
must have a good cry, and at the same time resolved that she wouldn't,
the great steam-whistle shrieked, the bell in the tower rang, the gates
opened from the inside, the gathered crowd rushed in, and all along the
road might be seen flying figures of men, women, boys, and girls,
hurrying to be in their places at the commencement of work and thus
avoid the fine imposed upon stragglers. There was a pause of a few
moments in the paved inside court while the inner doors of the great
brick building were opened, and then the incoming crowd entering in
various directions, scattered among the different corridors and left the
"new girl" standing alone and bewildered at the entrance.
In front of her stretched a long, narrow hall, clean and fresh
(Squantown Paper Mills were new and built after the most approved
models), with doors opening from it at intervals on both sides. Some of
these doors were open and some were shut; into some the work-people were
constantly disappearing, as though the doors were mouths that opened
suddenly and swallowed them up, and into some of the open ones Katie
peeped timidly and turned back disconsolately as she discovered that
they only afforded entrance to similar corridors, pierced by similar
rows of doors.
At length the last straggler had entered, gone his way, and disappeared,
and dead silence reigned. Katie felt as though she were alone in the
universe, and almost wondered if she were to be left there forever, when
a short, sharp, deafening whistle echoed through the hall, and at the
same instant the great building vibrated from top to bottom, the roar of
machinery swallowed up the silence, and the day's work began.
Immediately afterward a side door, close to where our little girl was
standing, opened, and out of it came the foreman of the mill, who had
been up to this moment in the office, receiving his orders for the day.
"Hallo, you!" he said crossly, seeing a girl standing idle in the hall;
"why don't you go about your business? Go to work if you belong here; go
home if you don't! No idlers or beggars allowed here, so close to the
office door, too. Come, run away quickly."
"If you please, Mr. Thornton, I've come to work in the mill, in the
rag-room, but I don't know which way to go."
"Oh!" said the foreman, "you're a new hand, eh? Rather a small one. It
seems to me Mr. Mountjoy will end by having a nursery rather than a
mill, but he knows his own business best, I suppose. New hands are not
in my department, however. Mr. James," he called, reopening the office
door and putting his head in again, "here's some work for you."
The "new hand" expected now to have an interview with the awful Mr.
Mountjoy, Miss Etta's father, of whom she had heard so much, but had
never yet seen, and began to tremble a little in anticipation. But,
instead, a rosy-faced, light-haired young man appeared, to whom the
foreman made a slight bow, and then went away. This was Mr. James
Mountjoy, Miss Etta's brother, and the only son of the proprietor of the
mill. Katie had heard her brothers, who were in his Sunday-school class,
talk about him, but had never seen him before.
"Your name, little girl," he said pleasantly, as he ushered her into the
"Katie Robertson, sir. Mr. Sanderson"—
"Oh, I know; Mr. Sanderson recommended you to my father. You look almost
too small to work. Can you do anything?"
"I can cook, and wash dishes, and help mother, and sew; I was in the
first class at school"—
"That is not any of it precisely the kind of work we do here," said the
young gentleman, pleasantly; "but no doubt you are a quick little girl,
and if you are used to doing some kinds of work others will not come so
hard to you. But you must understand in the beginning that work in a
factory is work, not play; work that cannot be laid aside when one is
tired of it, or when one wants to go on an excursion or to do something
else. It is work, too, for which you are to be paid, and it would be
dishonesty not to do it faithfully as in the sight of God. Our rules are
no stricter than they must be for the best good of the work and the
comfort and protection of all, but we expect them to be obeyed. You
will remember that. There must be no playing or whispering in work
hours, and you must always be on time. We want all our work-people to be
happy, and I am sure that the best kind of happiness comes from fidelity
to duty. Can you be a faithful little girl?"
"Yes, sir," said Katie, with a slight blush, though she did not feel at
all afraid of him; "I am trying to please God everywhere, and I am sure
he will help me to do so here."
"I am glad to hear you say that," said the young man, with a smile. "If
every man, woman, and child in this factory were really trusting in God
and trying to please him, we wouldn't need so many rules and the work
would not be so hard. One thing more: I believe you are to be in the
rag-room; that is a dirty place, in spite of all our efforts to keep it
clean and well ventilated; you won't find it very pleasant there always,
but perhaps you can learn to endure for Christ's and duty's sake; and
every one has to begin at the bottom, you know, who means to climb to
the top of the ladder."
During the latter part of this talk the gentleman and the child had been
ascending flight after flight of broad, open staircases, as well as
several narrow, spiral ones, crossing machinery-rooms, where great arms
and wheels and screws, in constant motion, made the little girl shudder,
and threading narrow passages and outside balconies, where the broad
raceway foamed and roared fifty or sixty feet beneath them. Katie had
never been inside of the great paper-mill before, though she had always
admired its fine proportions and handsome architecture from the outside.
She was surprised now to see how really beautiful everything was. The
floors were laid in wood of two contrasting colors; the balusters were
of solid black walnut; there were rows and rows of clear glass windows
in the rooms and corridors, while the machinery was either of shining
steel or polished brass. In some of the rooms were girls tending the
ruling and cutting and folding machines, and occasionally one would nod
to Katie, but no one spoke except where the work rendered it necessary.
At last the room next to the top of the vast building was reached, and
there Mr. James opened a door and ushered Katie into a room which
extended the whole length of one side of the building. The windows, of
which there were fifteen, were wide open, but for all that the air was
so thick with dust that at first Katie drew back with a sense of
"I told you it would not be pleasant," said Mr. James, "but this is your
appointed place. Be a brave girl, and when you are used to it it won't
seem so bad."
The sense of suffocation was caused by the particles of dust with which
the air was heavily laden, and which flew from the piles of rags which
over fifty girls were busily engaged in sorting, putting the
dark-colored ones by themselves, the medium-colored by themselves, and
the white ones—or those that had been white—into large boxes. As soon
as these boxes were filled they were placed on wheelbarrows and emptied
into long slides by men who waited for them and returned the boxes. Mr.
James explained to his young companion that these slides emptied their
contents into great vats in the room below, where after lying some days
in a certain purifying solution they were boiled with soda to loosen the
dirt, thoroughly washed by machinery, and passed into great copper
kettles, where they were boiled to a pulp and ground at the same time,
horizontal grindstones reducing them to the finest powder. He also
showed her that the dust was rendered much less hurtful than it would
otherwise have been by a great fan kept constantly at work on one side
of the room, which drove it out of the windows in front of the girls,
who were thus not compelled to breathe it unless they turned directly
around facing the blast, as Katie had done on entering the room. He then
put her under the care of a pleasant-faced woman, whose duty it was to
oversee the little girls, saw that she had a comfortable seat, shook
hands with her, and went away.
Mr. James was by no means called upon to be so polite to a "new hand";
most employers would have told the child which way to go and then left
her to shift for herself, or at best have sent a man or boy to show her
the way. Perhaps he would have done so with some girls, but he saw that
the child was timid and homesick, and knew that a few kind words would
go a great way toward making her feel at home and happy, and would serve
as an offset against the disagreeable first impressions of the rag-room,
and the weariness of regular work undertaken for the first time.
Why should he care to have one of his factory girls "feel at home and
happy"? some one will say; his relations with them are only those of
business: so much work for so much money; it was nothing to him what
they thought or felt. Mr. James Mountjoy did not feel so. He thought
that his father and he were placed in this responsible position and
given the care of several hundred human souls expressly that some good
work might be done for them. He felt that human beings are more
precious than machinery, and that happiness is an important factor in
goodness. He looked upon his work-people as those for whom he must give
account, and tried to act in all his dealings with them "to the glory of
God." Had he been actuated by the purest selfishness and the most
approved business principles, he could not have chosen a wiser course;
for men and women treated as friends become almost of necessity
friendly, and seeing their own interests cared for were all the more
likely to care for those of their employer. Katie Robertson certainly
never forgot Mr. James's judicious kindness on the morning of her
entrance into the mill; he was to her the kindest, sweetest, and most
lovable of gentlemen. She felt ready to do anything he should tell her
and to keep every rule he might make. Then, too, he was a Christian, and
understood all about what she meant when she had said God would help
her; surely it must be very easy to be good and resist temptation in a
place with such a master, and she felt like thanking God that, in spite
of the suffocating dust, "the lines had fallen to her in such very
THE FIRST DAY.
Left to herself Katie looked timidly round. It is always an ordeal to
meet so many strangers for the first time, and our little friend was
beginning to feel quite forlorn, when Miss Peters, the superintendent of
the rag-room, came to her and began to show her about the work to be
done; how, besides the rags being sorted, the buttons were to be taken
off and the larger pieces cut into small ones by pulling them
dexterously along and between two great sharp knives set on end for the
purpose. Katie had already covered her clean dress with the long-sleeved
blue apron and her hair with the little mob-cap her mother had provided,
and at once commenced her work, not at all seeing or noticing the
scornful looks that passed between some of the girls whose ragged finery
and dirty hair-ribbons full of dust and "flue" presented a lively
contrast to her own neat and suitable equipment. We may observe, in
passing, that before long this simple method of protection so commended
itself to some of the more sensible girls and their parents that many of
them adopted it and mob-caps and overalls became quite the fashion in
Katie was a smart little girl and could work very quickly when she set
about it; of course to-day she was anxious to show how much she could
do, and her piles and boxes were fuller than those of any girls near her
by the time of the warning whistle, which indicated that in half an hour
the dinner-bell would sound. Then there was a bustle in the room. The
piles were taken away in long and deep barrows which men wheeled into
the room, the boxes were carried off, emptied into the vats, and brought
back again; some of the girls swept the floor and tables by which they
stood; talking was permitted in this half-hour, and such a Babel as the
tongues of forty or fifty girls suddenly unloosed can make may be better
imagined than described. The "new hand" took advantage of the interval
to divest herself of her cap and apron, and putting on her hat, after
washing her hands in one of the row of basins provided for the purpose,
appeared as neat and nice for her homeward walk as she had done in the
morning when she came.
Such was not the case with most of the girls, whose fluffy, disordered
appearance as they issued from the rag-room was proverbial.
At precisely twelve o'clock the great bells began to clang and the
steam-whistle to shriek, and the long corridors and stairs echoed to the
tramp of many feet as the hundreds of men, women, boys, and girls rushed
down and out, and scattered in every direction toward the many homes
where dinner was awaiting them.
Eric and Alfred met their sister just outside of the door, and the three
were soon at home, Katie talking so much and so fast all the way, that
her brothers, as they said, "could hardly get in a word edgewise." Many
of the mill operatives carried their dinner with them and spent the noon
hour in gossip with each other, but Mrs. Robertson was careful both of
the bodies and souls of her children. She knew that the former would be
much more vigorous if every day they had a warm, comfortable, if
frugal, meal at noontide, and thought that the latter would be kept pure
and unsullied much longer if not exposed to the kind of talk apt to pass
between idle men and women of all grades and associations in society. So
ever since they first went into the bindery, the boys had regularly come
home to dinner, and were much the better, not only for it, but also for
the quick walk in the open fresh air.
Poor Mrs. Robertson had passed a lonely morning. She was used to being
alone while her daughter was at school, but that was different; she had
conjured up all sorts of dangers and disagreeables that the girl might
have to encounter, and she rather expected to see her brought in on a
board bruised and maimed from some part of the machinery into which she
had fallen or been entangled. But when Katie came rushing in like a
whirlwind, in high spirits, with glowing cheeks and a splendid appetite,
which yet she could scarcely take time to gratify, so full was she of
enthusiastic talk concerning the beauty and grandeur of the mill and the
kindness of Mr. James, her mother felt rather ashamed of her
Never had a dinner tasted so nicely; never had the little girl, to her
remembrance, eaten so much. She was in such a hurry to be off again, so
as not to be late, that the boys declared she would not give them any
time to eat at all, and again predicted that in a month's time things
would not be so rose-colored.
In the afternoon a surprise awaited the little factory-girl. Hardly had
work recommenced as the silence of voices and the noise of machinery
followed upon the long steam-whistle, than Mr. James again appeared,
followed by another "new hand." She was a tall, stout girl; in reality
just about Katie's age, but looking several years older, dressed in a
light-blue cashmere, considerably soiled and frayed. Her hair, which was
"banged" low over her forehead, was braided in a long tail behind, and
tied with a bunch of tumbled red ribbons, and around her neck was a
chain and locket intended to resemble gold. The girls all looked at her
inappropriate costume, most of them with envy and admiration, a few with
pity for a girl who knew no better than to come to factory work in so
very unsuitable a dress, and Katie looked up in some surprise to find
that the new comer, who had been placed next to her, was her old school
companion, Bertie Sanderson.
Miss Peters came forward pleasantly, showed the new girl how to do her
work just as she had showed Katie in the morning, and glancing at her
dress, suggested that another time a similar protection to that of her
companion would be advisable, and then left her to herself.
Scarcely was her back turned than Bertie, looking round the room with
great disgust, turned to Katie and said:—
"Isn't it hateful? Just think of us made to work among factory-girls.
I don't see what my father could have been thinking of!"
Katie made no answer, but pointed to Miss Peters, and then to the rule
for silence which was hung up conspicuously on the wall.
"Nonsense!" said Bertie, "that don't mean me. I'm daughter of Mr
Sanderson, the overseer of the bindery, don't you know? It's kind of
funny that I should be in the rag-room among all the common girls,
anyhow; but father said I'd got to begin work, and he guessed what
wouldn't hurt you wouldn't hurt me. But for the thought that you were
here I wouldn't have come at all, no matter what pa said. Ma don't think
it genteel. I don't see what made you come; don't you think it's
"No," said Katie, "I wanted to come, and I think the factory is
magnificent; besides, I want the money."
"So do I," said the other, "and pa said I should have all I earn till
there's enough to get a silk dress. I do want a silk dress so, don't
"No," said Katie, "I don't care;" but at this moment Miss Peters came
toward them, saying,—
"No talking, girls; you are new hands, or I should have to fine you;
every time a girl speaks it's a penny off of her day's wages, but I'll
let you off this time. Bertie, you haven't done a thing yet."
Katie blushed, for though she had not stopped work a single moment, she
had been tempted by her companion into breaking the rules; but Bertie
looked up insolently at the superintendent as she slowly took up some
of the rags, and muttered in a low tone, which was heard by most of her
"Who's going to mind you? You're only a servant-girl, anyway;" for Miss
Peters had, in her early life, "lived out."
Whether Miss Peters heard or not Katie could not be sure, but she
thought she saw a heightened color in the young woman's face, and was
just going to ask her companion how she could be guilty of such
rudeness, when she remembered the rule in time, checked herself, and put
her finger significantly on her lips.
As to Bertie, she stared round the room, working a little now and then,
and talking aloud to herself as she could get no one to talk to her.
Miss Peters was very indignant; but thought it best to take no notice
just yet; for, as the girl had said, she was Mr. Sanderson's daughter,
and she did not know just how far it would do to enforce rules in her
The girls in the rag-room were dismissed at five o'clock, so, as the
bindery did not close till six, Katie did not have the company of her
brothers on her homeward walk, Bertie taking their place, and talking
all the way about the indignity of working in a factory and the hardship
of having to work at all. She told about her cousins in the city, who
were quite fine ladies, according to Bertie's account, doing nothing but
play on the piano and do fancy-work. They were coming with their mother
to make a visit in the summer, and how ashamed she should be to appear
before them in the character of a paper-mill girl. The girl talked about
her father in anything but a respectful manner, but seemed to find
comfort in the thought of her silk dress. She had never had one yet, and
it had long been the goal of her ambition. What color did Katie think
would be becoming to her? How would she have it made? how trimmed?
"I'll tell you what, Katie," she said, "let's take our money when we get
it and get silks exactly alike; then we can wear them to Sunday-school
together, and the other girls will see that it isn't so mean to be
factory-girls after all. Even Miss Mountjoy herself can wear nothing
finer than silk, if she does always look so stuck up."
But Katie failed to be infected with a desire for a silk dress. She had
never worn anything but the plainest and poorest clothes, though they
had always been whole, clean, and neatly made; her temptations did not
lie in that line. She had insisted on beginning to work in order to help
her mother support the family, and to make it a little easier for them
all to get along. She admired pretty things, of course, as all girls do,
but she had an intuitive feeling that Sunday-school was not the place in
which to show off fine clothes. Bertie's chatter did not please her, and
though they were old friends, or rather companions, having been to both
school and Sunday-school together for some years, she was glad when they
parted at the corner house, which had once been the doctor's, and she
could go home to her mother.
For the little girl was tired by this time; she had got up much earlier
than usual and had been on her feet all day, and besides the reaction of
so much excitement, even though it had been of a pleasurable nature, was
calculated to produce depression. Her mother was out when she got home,
and there was nobody to welcome her but the gray cat, which did so,
however, with the loudest of purrings, and the lounge in the warm room
looked so comfortable that the tired little worker took pussy in her
arms, lay down there, and began to think. She was not quite satisfied
with her "first day." The factory was quite as nice as she had expected,
and Mr. James was nicer; but had she remembered "in all her ways to
acknowledge God" and "to do all to his glory"? She was afraid not; she
had broken the rules once, and had listened to Bertie's chatter, while a
desire had arisen in her heart, not for a silk dress, but for plenty of
money, for a fine home, for a piano, and all the things that some girls
had, and she had been tempted to think it hard that some people should
have so much and some so little. Was God quite just to let it be so?
But, as she lay upon the lounge, rested by its soft cushions, warmed by
the fire, and soothed by the purring of the cat, she began to be ashamed
of such thoughts. How many comforts, how much happiness God had given
her! A nice home, a loving mother, plenty to eat and wear, and health
and strength to earn enough to make them all so much more comfortable.
She knew that all good things come from God, and if he had not put it
into the heart of Mr. Sanderson to speak to Mr. Mountjoy for her, she
could not have got the situation in the mill. The forty cents she had
earned to-day was directly God's gift, and so would be all the money
that ever came to her in the future. She ought to be a very thankful
little girl, and she was quite ashamed of her questionings. So she
dropped down upon her knees by the lounge, and asked God to forgive her
for the sake of Jesus, and lying down again soon fell fast asleep.
When she awoke it was dark; the boys had come home; her mother had come
in so quietly as not to awaken her daughter, tea was quite ready, and it
was a very pleasant scene that her eyes, now entirely rested, opened
upon, and a very happy, thankful little girl came to the table to eat
the nice supper which awaited her.
After tea she and her brothers played games for some time; then Mrs.
Robertson took her mending-basket, which was always very full, and Katie
got her thimble and helped, while Eric read aloud from a book of
"Stories from History." And so closed the first day of Katie Robertson's
Miss Etta Mountjoy was a young lady of the period. She was the youngest
of Mr. Mountjoy's children, and the baby and pet of all. Her mother died
when she was about five years old, and since then she had always done
exactly as she pleased; her father would not control her, and her eldest
sister, who took charge of the family in her mother's place, could not.
It was well that the girl had no evil tendencies and was, upon the
whole, well-principled, warm-hearted, and good-natured, or she might have
gone very grievously astray. As it was, she was now at seventeen a
bright butterfly, flitting from one to another of the flowers of life,
and sipping as much honey as she could from each. She was fond of all
sorts of bright, pretty things, handsome clothes and jewelry included.
She liked to sing and she liked to dance, to go to parties when there
were any, and to attend concerts and theatres when she went to town; in
a word, she was fond of "having a good time," as Americans express it,
whenever and wherever she could get a chance.
Nor did Miss Etta mind work. She was a girl of energy, who would
willingly walk miles to attend a picnic or climb a mountain, and she did
not hesitate to work for hours on a trimming for her dress, or even some
more useful piece of sewing. She was always having furores for
something; at one time it was gardening, when she coaxed her father to
have a good-sized piece of ground dug up and laid out for her, and
actually raised, not flowers, as one would expect, but quite respectable
vegetables, hoeing the beans, corn, and cabbages herself, and weeding
out the cucumbers, lettuce, and radishes with persistent fidelity.
At another time she had a poultry-mania, and a chicken-house with the
most approved nests, warming-apparatus, etc., was constructed for the
little lady, and here she daily set the hens, fed the chickens, and
collected the eggs, selling them to her father at exorbitant prices.
Again, cooking absorbed her time and gave occupation to her energies;
and the family were treated to strange compounds of her concocting,
while the old servant who reigned supreme in the kitchen was in the
depths of despair at the number of dishes and pans she was called upon
to clear up, the waste and breakage that went on, and the general
disorganization of her lifelong arrangements.
Happily, or unhappily, these moods never were of long duration. The
reading-mania lasted just long enough for a handsome bookcase to be
stocked with histories, biographies, etc.; a few volumes of poems were
dipped into, several novels read, and a big history attacked, when the
mood changed into a passion for skating, and the remainder of the winter
was consumed in preparing a fancy costume, getting the most approved
club-skates, and learning to keep upright upon them; but by the time so
much was accomplished, the ice broke up and Miss Etta was obliged to
find some other occupation. Art came next in the list of the girl's
absorbing avocations. A studio was fitted up, canvas stretched upon
easels, pencils sharpened, and quite a creditable beginning made upon
some pictures which showed considerable native taste and ability.
Just now Sunday-school teaching had taken the place of all other things,
and Etta Mountjoy devoted the energies of her many-sided nature to her
class. There had been more than one person opposed to entrusting so
sacred a work to so light-minded and trivial a girl. Her brother James
considered it nothing short of sacrilege, and her oldest sister Eunice
reasoned with her very gravely, and tried to show her that, in order to
teach the truths of God, one should have some personal knowledge of
them, and that the only acceptable motive for religious work was a
sincere desire to please God and benefit the souls of those whom Christ
came to save. But Etta was not accustomed to be guided by her brother
and sister; she went to her father, told him she wanted to take a class
in Sunday-school, and of course he said "Yes." Then she went to the
superintendent and made known her request, saying it was at her father's
desire, which, as he was book-keeper at the paper-mill, would, she knew,
have great weight.
Mr. Scoville paused, hesitated, and finally resolved to consult the
pastor, promising Etta her answer before Sunday came round. He would
have given an unqualified refusal had the petitioner been any one else
than his employer's daughter.
Mr. Morven, the pastor, however, thought differently. He had known the
young girl ever since she was a very little one; he knew there was no
positive evil in her, and though he had not heretofore suspected her of
any serious thought, he looked upon her request as an indication of
good, and said that perhaps the very familiarity with sacred things
which teaching a Sunday-school class would necessitate might be as
beneficial to the teacher as to the scholars. So Mr. Scoville, though
rather against his better judgment, sent a note to Miss Etta granting
her request, having in his mind a certain class of little ones just out
of the infant class, the teacher of which had announced her intention of
leaving the school. When he went to see this teacher, however, he found
she had changed her mind, and there was no other class available except
one composed of seven "big girls," of whom Katie Robertson was one. Of
course, Mr. Scoville could not go back on his word, so Miss Etta
Mountjoy was formally installed as teacher of one of the most important
classes of the school.
Most of the girls liked her; some were seized with a violent admiration,
if not of her, of her beautiful hats, delicate kid gloves, and all the
et cetera which go to make up the toilet of a modern young lady.
Others liked her fresh, frank manner and sympathy with them and their
interests. Indeed, she was so nearly on their own level as to age that
there was no room for condescension on this account; while, as to
position, where was there ever an American girl of any age who
acknowledged to social inferiority? Katie alone felt, though she could
hardly explain it, the want of something in her new teacher which had
been peculiarly characteristic of the old one, who was a plain, elderly
woman, without much education,—namely, personal love and devotion to
the Lord Jesus, showing itself in an earnest desire that her scholars
might also learn to love and serve him. This good teacher's prayers had
been answered, and her efforts blessed, in Katie Robertson's case, and
hence the girl knew how to appreciate the difference.
In some ways, however, Etta agreeably disappointed all their
expectations. She set herself to study and prepare her lessons with an
energy that carried all before it; consulted commentaries, studied
dates, compared contemporary history, committed to memory schedules, and
looked out illustrations, all of which she imparted to her class till
its members far surpassed all the others in the school in their
knowledge of scripture geography and history and biography. They could
give complete lists of the patriarchs, the judges, the kings of Israel
and Judah, and the major and minor prophets; and they never failed with
the dates of the deluge, the "call of Abraham," the Exodus, the
Captivity, and all the periodic points by which the Bible is marked and
mapped off in the voluminous Sunday-school literature of the day. As to
distinctively religious teachings, every scholar had the catechism
verbatim, ready to recite at a moment's notice, and a failure in the
"golden text" was unknown. To be sure, other teachers in her vicinity,
whose classes failed to win the unqualified praise accorded to hers, did
say that Miss Etta never failed to prompt her scholars if there seemed
to be any hesitation; but perhaps that was due to a tinge of jealousy in
consequence of all the prizes given at a quarterly examination,
including one for the teacher, having been won by this "banner class."
All this was very well in its way. There is certainly no harm in knowing
all we can about the Bible; it helps us to understand and appreciate it,
and to answer the objections which foolish infidels are constantly
bringing against it; but the girls, especially Katie, missed the pointed
application; the showing how every wrong thing is sin; how sin must be
punished; how Jesus has borne the punishment, and so is ready and
willing to forgive the sin; how he loves all men, even though they are
sinners, and is ready to give them strength to resist temptation and
conquer sin, if they will diligently seek the aid of his Holy Spirit—in
Bible words, to make them "whiter than snow." These are the true themes
of Sunday-school teaching; the one end to be aimed at is so to bring up
the children in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord," as that when
they come to years of discretion they shall gladly confess him as their
Master, and become noble, intelligent, active Christian men and women.
Lacking this, all outside things are, as the apostle says, "sounding
brass and a tinkling cymbal."
The only positive harm which Miss Etta did to her class was to foster in
some of the girls a great admiration for dress and an ardent desire to
imitate their teacher in this respect. Since the days of Eve a taste for
dress has always been an inherent part of a girl's constitution, and is
apt to become one of her greatest temptations, especially if she be a
poor girl, as were most of these, and must procure cheap imitations of
finery; or, if even these are beyond their reach, indulge in
discontented repinings, which are really rebellion against God.
Squantown Sunday-school was a very pleasant one. Quite unlike the usual
oblong wooden building, which in many country places serves for a
secular school during the week and a Sunday-school on Sunday, it was a
pretty gothic brick building, handsomely fitted up with folding-seats, a
reed organ, and an uncommonly good library. A nice carpet was upon the
floor, and pretty illuminated texts painted upon the walls; the windows
were narrow and pointed, with little diamond-shaped panes, and when
opened gave a near view of the minister's garden full of bright-hued
flowers, and a more distant one of softly outlined blue mountains, whose
tops, capped in summer with snowy clouds and in winter with veritable
snow, formed apt illustrations to thoughtful teachers of the "mountains
that stand round about Jerusalem," and symbolized the protecting love
and care of the Lord for his people.
The beautiful Sunday-school building was largely due to the efforts of
Mr. James, who had his father's well-filled purse to draw from; and he
had interested himself in getting the scholars together, as well as in
introducing among them all modern improvements. He was greatly
interested in his class of big boys, over whom his influence was most
beneficial. Nearly all of them had already confessed Christ, and were
mostly manly Christians, exercising a good influence upon the other boys
in the mill or bindery, to which they, as well as nearly all the members
of the school, belonged.
Miss Eunice Mountjoy was also engaged in the Sunday-school, having
charge of the Bible-class, which contained all the oldest scholars, some
of them quite young men and women. She was a very different sort of
person from her youngest sister. Fully twelve years her senior, she
looked and seemed much older than she really was, and no one had for
years thought of calling her a "girl," although now she was only
twenty-nine. When she was quite a girl her mother had died, leaving her
with the care of all her sisters and her brother, to whom she had,
indeed, done a mother's part. Her chief aim in life had always been to
"do all to the glory of God," and to her Bible-class she gave her most
earnest efforts and her warmest prayers. Her influence was great at
home, in the mill, and throughout the town of Squantown, though, as far
as possible, she obeyed the scripture injunction not to let her left
hand know what her right hand was doing. She always invited the female
members of her class to take tea with her every Wednesday night; the
boys and young men being expected to come afterward, remain a little
while, and then escort their sisters, cousins, and friends home. These
little meetings were very pleasant; sometimes pretty fancy-work—to be
sold for the benefit of the class missionary fund—was done; sometimes
clothes were cut out and made for some of the poorer factory children,
or some fatherless baby, while Miss Eunice read aloud some interesting
book; sometimes when the topics suggested by last Sunday's lesson had
proved too voluminous for the time of the session, they were taken up
and discussed on Wednesday; sometimes difficult points in next week's
lesson were anticipated. In this way the teacher became really
acquainted with the members of her class, their dispositions,
temptations, and interests; she gained their confidence, and was often
able to advise and assist them in many ways, and they learned to look
upon her as a friend to whom they might apply in time of need. And, as
a secondary benefit, the girls learned a great deal in the way of
cutting out, basting, and other mysteries of needlework calculated to
prove very useful to them in their future capacity of wives and mothers.
Eunice had often wished that the same plan could be pursued in the other
elder classes; but their teachers, who were mostly employed in some
capacity in the mill, could hardly spare the time, and Etta certainly
was not fitted for the work. As an experiment, however, on the first
Sunday after Katie entered the mill she came over to her sister's class
and invited all the girls, or as many as chose to do so, to join hers on
Wednesday afternoon next, saying she had something of interest and
importance to talk about. As the invitation was one that seemed to place
those to whom it was given in the rank of grown-up girls, it was at once
gladly accepted, especially as most of the girls had never been inside
of Mr. Mountjoy's house and grounds, and would gladly see the luxury of
which they had heard so much.
There was a great deal of talk after the close of the session about the
invitation and the proposed meeting, and some curiosity was expressed
as to the "important thing" Miss Eunice was to talk about. One or two of
the girls said they were sorry they had accepted the invitation; they
didn't like "to have religion poked at them"; they guessed they wouldn't
go. Before the appointed day, however, curiosity got the better of these
fainthearted ones, and not a girl of Etta's class was wanting when the
At exactly six o'clock some twenty young girls of various ages assembled
at "the great house," as Mr. Mountjoy's grand mansion was called in the
village. They could not come earlier, as most of them worked in the
mill, which they could not leave till five or half-past five;
consequently they all arrived at about the same time. They were received
with perfect politeness by the servant, who opened the door and ushered
them, as she would have done any other visitors, into the spare-room,
prettily furnished in blue and white satin, with white lace hangings and
silver ornaments. Here they laid aside their hats, and taking their
little work-baskets, descended to the great drawing-room, whose
splendors considerably surprised the younger girls; the older ones were
used to it. At the door Miss Eunice with Etta, the latter arrayed in a
wonderful costume, met and received their guests, and after lingering
for a while among the paintings, engravings, nicknacks, etc., led them
to an inner room, the windows of which overlooked the garden in summer,
and a door from which opened into a greenhouse, now full of blooming
This was the family sitting-room, generally the abode of Miss Eunice,
for Etta was too much of a butterfly to stay anywhere, and Rhoda, the
middle sister, now about twenty, was an artist, entirely devoted to
painting, spending her days and a great part of her nights in her
studio, and caring nothing for any of the interests connected with our
story. It was luxuriously furnished, more with a view to comfort than to
show, and as the girls sank into the easy sofas or into the deep stuffed
chairs, or else made themselves comfortable upon low seats and divans,
the contrast with their own bare homes and hardworking life was enough
to call forth many a sigh of rest and enjoyment. Work was then produced,
the usual inquiries after parents and sisters, invalids and home-keepers
asked and answered, with a little other familiar conversation, when Miss
Eunice said: "I think, girls, as we have finished the book upon which
we have been so long engaged, we will not commence another to-day, but
devote our thoughts to a subject about which I have been thinking a
great deal, and which your pastor agrees with me in thinking of very
great importance to be brought before you. I mean a public confession of
Christ as your Saviour and Master."
Some of the girls looked grave, some blushed, some were confused. Katie
Robertson glanced up expectantly, for this was an opportunity she had
long been on the lookout for, and longed to hear more about it. One of
the elder girls said:—
"But, Miss Eunice, nobody ought to join the church who is not
"That is very true, but is it not equally true that all who are
converted ought to join the church, as you express it, or, as I prefer
to say, confess their Saviour? It is only a mean soul which is willing
to accept gifts and favors and never openly acknowledge its gratitude
for them. I wouldn't care for the friendship of any one who was ashamed
to own me before other people; and I wouldn't think much of a soldier
who did not show his colors and put on the uniform of his country."
Katie felt her face flush; for was she not one of these very secret
friends—one of the soldiers who had not as yet put on the uniform? Not
that she had really been ashamed to do so, but the subject had not been
very prominently brought to her notice, and when she had thought of it
at all it had seemed such a strange, awful, public step for so young a
girl to take. She felt so unworthy; it seemed a thing for old people to
do, not for little girls. But Miss Eunice had thrown a new light upon
the subject, and it looked differently from what it had ever looked
"But if we are not Christians, Miss Eunice, you wouldn't like us to act
"God forbid, Mary; did you ever think that you ought to be a
Christian?—ought to be in that state which will make it possible for
you to obey the simple command of Christ to confess him before men?"
"A command, Miss Eunice?"
"Yes, a command accompanied by both a promise and a threat. 'Whosoever
shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father
which is in heaven, but whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I
also deny before my Father which is in heaven.'"
"But still," persisted the first speaker, "if one isn't converted."
"And what is to prevent one's being converted. Don't you think God is
willing to give you grace sufficient to enable you to do and be all that
he commands you? The greatest mistake young people can make is to
suppose that they must wait, and not take the first step toward a
religious life till something mysterious comes to them and lifts them
into it almost against their own will."
"Not against our own wills; I am sure everybody wants to be saved."
"Yes, dear, against their own will, for if any one wills to be a
Christian, she can be one at once. I must insist upon it, because it is
our Saviour's own teachings. He says: 'Ye will not come unto me that ye
might have life'; and so I am sure that if any one does not have life,
spiritual life, it is because she will not come unto him."
"I'd like to come," said one girl, timidly, "but I don't see exactly
"I dare say most of you would. Mr. Morven and I have been talking it
over. He feels that the time for a spiritual harvest among our people,
especially among our carefully taught Sunday scholars, has about come,
and he thinks that, with a little more definite help and teaching, many
of you would be glad to come to Jesus, and be enrolled as his followers
now, instead of waiting for that indefinite sometime which may never
come. I have a book here which, in words so simple that the youngest
girl here can understand, explains how we may come to Christ by
repentance and faith in his sacrifice upon the cross, etc. It is
pleasantly written and illustrated with anecdotes. I think you will all
like it, and I propose to read a little of it aloud every Wednesday
afternoon for the next month, and at the close of the reading we will
have a little familiar conversation on this, the most important of all
topics. As most of the girls in my sister's class are of quite
sufficient age to understand what it means to be a Christian and
honestly to consider their own duty in this respect, I shall be very
happy to see them also, and any others of their friends, either in the
Sunday-school or from outside. Girls, this is a very important subject,
and I trust you will think of it conscientiously and decide upon your
own individual duty as in the sight of God. If you fail to make a right
use of this season, another similar opportunity may never be given you.
Let us commence by asking God's blessing upon our reading and thinking,
and the presence of that Holy Spirit without whose aid we can never come
to any decision that will be pleasing to him."
Miss Eunice then knelt down while all the girls knelt around her, and
prayed in low tones that the influences of the Holy Spirit might be
poured out upon all present; that they might have wisdom to see their
duty at this solemn moment and grace to do it; that they might not be
self-deceived, but really surrender their hearts into the hands of their
Saviour, and, putting their whole trust in him, be willing to confess
him before men, that he might confess them before the angels and his
Some serious talk followed, and then tea was announced, after which the
conversation became general, and at nine o'clock the girls and their
brothers and friends, who had come for them, went home quietly, and for
the most part wrapped in serious thought.
Etta Mountjoy had never felt so strangely in her life. She had always
known that some people were professing Christians; nay, she had, during
her visits to the city, and even at home, seen people, even young girls,
come forward and take upon themselves the vows of Christ. Perhaps it may
have occurred to her that "sometime" she should do so, but to be
deliberately called upon to consider her own immediate duty in the
matter had not happened to her before. Once or twice, indeed, when she
was much younger, "Sister Eunice" or "Brother James" had attempted to
speak to her upon the subject, but she always turned away from it in
such a flippant way that both felt she was in no proper frame for the
consideration of so solemn a theme, and of late they had foreborne to
mention it. It was with a view, perhaps, of interesting her sister quite
as much as her sister's scholars that Eunice had invited them upon the
present occasion, knowing that the young girl's lively interest in her
class would induce her to be present if its members were, and to her
great joy and thankfulness she was not disappointed. Etta had never
heard her sister pray before, though the Wednesday afternoon meetings
were often thus opened, and it seemed to her something almost awful to
hear the language which she had always associated with a grave minister
and a solemn church service spoken reverently, it is true, but quite
familiarly, by her sister.
Then, too, the question with which the reading closed: "Will you now
thus confess Christ?" How could she answer it? Was she in a fit state
for so solemn an action, she, a butterfly flitting from one avocation to
another, with no thought or aim beyond pleasing herself? She knew she
was not. She had given up the child-habit of "saying her prayers," and
she had never learned really to pray. Until she took that class she had
not, for some years, voluntarily opened her Bible, and now she knew that
all her energetic study of the technicalities of the Holy Word had in it
no grain of desire to please or glorify God. Even her devotion to
Sunday-school teaching, usually supposed to be Christian work, had in it
no leaven of Christianity, being only self-pleasing from end to end.
Etta was sufficiently clear-sighted to see all this. She knew that she
never thought of God. His approval or disapproval was all one to her,
and while she had never denied or openly scoffed at religion, and had no
reason to doubt the truths of its facts and doctrines, she was, so far
as anything practical went, not a Christian at all. What had she to
"confess"? And yet, how strange it would seem if some of those to whom
she stood in the position of teacher, who of necessity looked up to and
imitated her, should become Christians and church members, when she had
never taken the same stand. Stranger still, and worse, if they should be
deterred from what seemed to them a duty by the example of their
Sunday-school teacher. Etta had never been placed in such a dilemma
before, and she heartily wished either that her sister had not invited
her class, or that the class had not accepted the invitation, and that
the girls would never come again, and yet she hardly liked to advise
them not to do so.
"I don't like that kind of a party at all," said Bertie Sanderson, when
the group of younger girls were well out of hearing of the house. "She
just got us there under false pretences, calling it fun and turning it
into a sort of church. We get prayers enough, in all conscience, on
"I'd rather have Miss Etta talk to us about the patriarchs and the
stories and all that," said Matilda Eckart, who was a good scholar, or
would have been if she had not, by the necessities of her family, been
forced to work in the mill. "I like to learn things; still I like Miss
Eunice, too. She's real sweet, and maybe we ought to do as she says."
"Nonsense!" said another girl, Helen Felting by name, "Miss Etta isn't a
Christian, and she's her own sister and three or four years older than
we are. I don't want to be any better than she is. My, ain't her dress
lovely, all silk and velvet, and such an exquisite shade! fits so, too,
just as if it was her skin!"
"Did you see her ear-rings?" said another. "Real diamonds, all set
round with pearls, and such a chain and locket!"
"I don't care," said Bertie; meaning, of course, that she did care very
much. "We girls haven't got so much money and we can't have real things.
I like my chain and locket just as well (which she didn't, for she was
quite keen enough to understand the difference), but I won't go there
again till I get my silk dress made;" and she glanced disgustedly at the
light-blue cashmere which, as it was her best dress, she chose to wear
on all occasions, and which looked already much the worse for its week
in the rag-room at the mill.
Katie Robertson did not speak at all, except to answer the questions of
Eric, who had come for her, as to whether she had had a pleasant time
decidedly in the affirmative. She was thinking very deeply. We have seen
that our Katie was a faithful, conscientious little girl, loving God
sincerely, trusting in her Saviour, and striving to please him and grow
like him. She loved to study the Bible, which she knew was his word, and
to pray to him in her own simple language every night and morning; nay,
often at other times when she felt the need of his help, or had
something she wanted to tell him about. She had not asked herself any
hard questions yet about whether she were a Christian or not. She knew
she was her mother's Katie because she loved her mother and wanted to
please her, and she knew she was God's child because she loved him and
wanted to please him. She often did things, and said things, and thought
things that she knew were displeasing to both, but she did not want to
do so. She was always very sorry, she always asked to be forgiven and
believed she was, for did not her mother say so each time, and had not
her heavenly Father promised so once for all in the Bible?
But this afternoon the thought had really come to her that she ought
publicly to confess herself a Christian; and yet she shrank from it, she
hardly knew why. She was afraid she might afterward do something which
would disgrace such a holy profession; and yet, if her Saviour commanded
it, as he certainly did, that made it a duty, and, of course, she ought
to obey, trusting him to help her keep all the promises as he had
promised to do. He would like it, too, so much; it would be easier
afterward to resist temptation and to "stand up for Jesus" among her
Katie's thoughts were very busy ones, and by the time she came in sight
of her home she had decided that, if her mother and the pastor had no
objection, she would give in her name among those who were, at the first
opportunity, to confess Christ.
The Wednesday afternoon meetings were continued throughout the spring
and early summer, and were attended by all the members of Miss Eunice's
class, nearly all those of her sister's, and five or six other girls who
accepted the kind invitation of the former. There was always the same
hospitality, always the same warm welcome, and always the same grave but
happy earnestness on the part of the young lady on whom God had laid
this great work. As the warm days came on, the meetings were adjourned
to the velvety, close-shaven lawn, where chairs and rustic seats were
clustered under the shade of a great, wide-spreading tree, and the
sweet, holy themes of reading and conversation seemed all the sweeter
that they were henceforth associated with blue sky, bright flowers,
white clouds, green leaves, and the other things made by the God who was
even now calling these young hearts into his service.
Miss Eunice went through with a pretty thorough course of reading upon
sin, repentance, faith in Christ, renunciation of all evil, walking
obediently in God's holy will and commandments, which is another name
for holy living, and as she prayed constantly for God's blessing upon
her efforts, she had great cause for thankfulness in the hope that many
of these young souls thus brought, for the first time, face to face with
their personal responsibility toward God, and his loving provision for
their salvation, really chose the "better part," which no man can take
away from us,—"passed from death unto life," and in publicly
confessing Christ made no false profession.
Meanwhile work in the mill was becoming an old story and, as such,
decidedly monotonous. The glamour had passed by, and Squantown Paper
Mill had ceased to be an enchanted palace and become a prosaic place of
daily toil. Such disenchantments are always more or less painful, and
Katie's high spirits declined proportionally. It was well that
principles of self-support, independence, and duty to God, underlay her
enthusiasm, or it would soon have died away, being choked to death by
the dust from the rags.
The little pile of money that was ready to be carried home every
Saturday night at first did a great deal toward rekindling the old
enthusiasm. The first week it was only two dollars and forty cents, but
on the second it had risen to three dollars, fifty cents a day being the
regular price paid to the "rag-room girls." By this time the "new hand"
was new no longer, and she had learned to work so fast as to accomplish
the amount usually done in a day in a much shorter time, and then Miss
Peters told her she might go home.
Mr. Mountjoy, or rather "Mr. James," upon whom all arrangements
concerning the work-people devolved, was not one of those employers who
consider that they have bought all the time of their employees. He had a
right to a fair day's work in return for a fair day's wages, but if any
one was industrious enough to do more than this, the time thus gained
was his own to use as he liked. Many of the elder workers did use it in
the mill, receiving extra pay for extra work, when, as sometimes
happened, there was extra work to be done. Some of her companions made
as much as a dollar a day in this way. But Mrs. Robertson was gifted
with good sense, and knew that her child's young strength must not be
overtaxed and thus the development of the future woman be stunted. So
Katie came home generally about four o'clock, and had plenty of time to
rest, to help her mother about the house, to keep up some of her old
school studies, and to read the very valuable and interesting books of
which the Sunday-school library was composed. Her mother took her money
and kept it for her, hoping thus to have enough for the summer outfit
she would so soon need. The child would gladly have done extra work in
order to make extra money, she knew so well how much it was needed, but
her mother was inexorable, and she was forced to submit.
As to Bertie, she never finished her day's work at all. Her time was
largely spent in looking out of window, studying the dresses and ribbons
of the other girls, making signs to her companions, and whispering to
her neighbor whenever Miss Peters's back was turned. She hated her work
and would have given it up long ago, at least as soon as the silk dress
had been procured, and her mother would have very injudiciously
purchased it long before the money had been earned, but that her father
was resolute. The mill would have dispensed with her society as soon as
her idleness and inefficiency were seen, except that Mr. Sanderson was
her father, and it was thought best to show due consideration to him.
"Dear me! how hateful it all is," said Bertie, with a yawn, one day
during the half-hour when talking was permitted. "Are you not heartily
sick of it, Katie?"
"It's a little monotonous, I own," said the girl addressed, "but then,
no work is play, I suppose. Maybe we'll get promoted to the folding-room
soon, and it will be much nicer there."
"It isn't a bit nicer. It's work anywhere, and I hate work. I never mean
to do a bit of it that I can help. Ma says pa'll have money enough to
make us all rich, and I want to be a lady." "Ma" had been a factory-girl
herself, which was perhaps one reason why Bertie despised the business.
She had married the foreman of the mill, who had now risen to be
overseer of the bindery, and yearly laid up a large portion of his
salary, while her sister had married a city grocer, who was spending all
he made as he made it, and his children were growing up to be useless,
fine ladies, and a positive injury to their country cousins.
"But while you do work you might do it faithfully, not spend time for
which you are paid in idleness, and crowd in rags with the buttons all
on, which will be sure to spoil the machinery when they come to be
"Bah! what difference does it make? I'm paid for my time. Provided I
stay here all day, they haven't a right to claim anything more."
"But, Bertie, they have. Don't you remember the text which is painted on
the wall at the foot of the corridor?
"'Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.'"
"It seems to me just like stealing to waste time that we're paid for, or
not to do work entrusted to us just as well as we possibly can."
"Oh, well, you're one of the saints, you know. If it's saintship to be
rude and call other people thieves I'm glad I'm a sinner, that's all. I
guess we'll catch the saint in a slip before long, don't you, girls?"
said she, appealing to several other idlers who naturally congregated
around a bird of the same feather as themselves.
Bertie and Katie did not walk home together any more. The former, never
having finished her work, was always obliged to remain in the mill till
the closing-bell rang, while the former went home, as we have seen, at
four o'clock, and at noon she was generally met by her brothers.
"Eric," she said on the day of the above conversation, "do you think
it's right to idle and talk instead of doing your work?"
"We can't in the bindery; the machine won't let us. Everything would go
to thunder if we looked off."
"But suppose you could, and nobody knew anything about it?"
"They couldn't fine you if they didn't know," said Alfred, whose ideas
of the righteousness of law were modified by the possibility of escaping
"What difference would that make?" said Eric. "God would know."
"Yes," said Katie, "I always wish the words 'Thou God seest me,' were
written up on the walls of the mill. It helps you not to get tired and
want to stop."
"Do you ever want to stop, Katie?" said her brother, tenderly.
"Yes, lots of times, It's just the same thing day after day, no change,
no variety, the dust suffocates you, and it's so hard to get up in the
"Sho!" shouted Alfred, "I thought you'd sing a different tune after you'd
been in the factory a little while. Don't you remember I told you
"Katie," said Eric, "you remember I told you that you should not work
one moment longer than you wanted to. A girl with two strong brothers to
support her need not work for her living unless she chooses to. Do you
want to stop now?"
"I want to, ever so much," said the girl, "but I don't mean to. Do
you think I am a baby to begin a thing and then leave it off again?
There's just as much reason as there ever was for my earning money. I'm
not going to be dependent upon you, and mother is growing older every
day. Do you remember what the Bible says about those who put their hands
to the plough and look back? I don't mean to be one of those; and I mean
to pray every day," she said more softly, "that I may be more patient
Eric understood her, and even Alfred respected his sister the more for
what he could not understand.
"I wish I knew some way of making money faster," said Katie to her
brothers soon after; "a great deal, I mean. Mother wants any quantity of
things—blankets, and kitchen utensils, and table things, and she hasn't
a bonnet fit to go to church in. It takes about all we can make to feed
us all, and if there is any left she always uses it to buy things for us
instead of thinking about herself."
"I wonder how it is mothers never think of themselves," said Alfred.
"They are always fussing to make us happy, and we don't do things for
them at all."
Katie thought of the words:—
"As one whom his mother comforteth,"
which had been in last Sunday's lesson, but did not say them aloud, only
it was a comfort to her to think of the other holy words which say of a
mother and her child: "She may forget, yet will not I forget thee." No
matter how much a mother may love, God loves us better still.
One day about that time, Bertie Sanderson, following her usual custom
of looking around the room instead of at her work, saw something that
caused her to start, open her eyes very wide, and then mutter
"Oho! the saints are not so saintly after all. It's dishonest to look
around the room, is it? I wonder what you call that!"
"Bertie Sanderson, talking, as usual," said Miss Peters, marking the
fine upon the slate which she always carried with her," and Katie
Robertson, too," noting a sudden flush upon the face of the latter.
"I am surprised."
"I did not speak," said Katie, respectfully, but with some confusion.
"There's no harm in talking to yourself," said Bertie, in the rude tone
which she usually addressed to Miss Peters.
"Were not those girls talking, Gretchen," said the superintendent,
appealing to a stout German who worked near the others.
"No, ma'am, I believe not; at least, Katie wasn't. I heard Bertie say
something, but Katie did not answer, but"—
"Never mind," said Miss Peters, who had got all she wanted,—a chance
to fine Bertie whom she hated,—"attend to your work," and she passed
on, never noticing the hand which Katie, having hastily thrust it into
her pocket, continued to hold there.
The work proceeded in silence, and, as Katie went home at four o'clock
as usual, Bertie did not have an opportunity to speak to her about the
strange thing she had noticed. She did, however, say to Gretchen, as
they separated: "Did you see that?"
"What?" said the German, innocently.
"Oh! nothing, if you did not see it." Bertie was going to tell her
companion what she had seen, but on second thoughts decided to keep her
discovery to herself, that she might have more power over the "saint,"
whom she was beginning to absolutely hate.
But Gretchen had seen exactly what Bertie had, only she did not think it
her business, and as it was not, did not choose to speak about it, but,
German fashion, went about her own business.
What had the two girls seen? What was it that made Katie Robertson's
face such a study as she walked home at a much slower pace than was her
wont? What was it that lay in the depth of her pocket, where her hand
rested for greater security. What did she put away in the drawer that
contained her treasures, going directly to her room for the purpose,
instead of rushing first of all to the sitting-room to see if her mother
were at home.
Only a crisp fifty-dollar bill! Katie had never seen so much money at
once before. How beautiful it looked; how much it represented of comfort
and luxury; how many things it would buy that she knew were wanted by
her mother and the boys! She deposited her treasure carefully at the
bottom of a little pearl box which had been her mother's, and was the
only really pretty thing which she possessed, and then went downstairs
to lie on the sofa, think about and plan for spending it.
Where had Katie suddenly got so much money? and why did she so earnestly
desire to keep the possession of it a secret? She thought the answer
to the latter question lay in her desire to surprise her mother, and was
not at all conscious of another feeling that lay as yet quite dormant
and unaroused. As to the former, that is easily answered. After cutting
off the buttons of an old vest, just as the little girl was preparing to
cut it in smaller pieces, the pocket opened, and out fluttered a
crumpled paper, which on being opened proved to be a fifty-dollar bill.
Some careless gentleman, no one could tell whom, no one could tell when,
had stuffed it into the pocket and forgotten all about it. Strange that
the vest should have gone through all the vicissitudes common to old
clothes, worn possibly by a beggar, condemned to a dust-heap, fished
out, sorted, sold, packed, sold again, and transported to the factory,
passing through a dozen hands, to any one of whose owners the money
would have been so useful, and there it had lain unnoticed till it
fluttered out into the very hands of Katie Robertson, who needed it so
What castles in the air the little girl built as she lay there in the
twilight!—dresses and bonnets for her mother; new suits for each of the
boys; a new tea-set, with table-cloth and napkins. Never in the world
did a fifty-dollar bill buy half so much in reality as this one did in
imagination; which, by the way, is a very pleasant way of spending
money, since it does not at all diminish the amount, which may be all
spent over and over again in a variety of ways. But strangely enough,
while everything needed by the others, even to a new ribbon to tie round
pussy's neck, was remembered, Katie's catalogue of articles to be bought
contained nothing in the world for herself.
STRIFE AND VICTORY.
No thought had as yet suggested itself to Katie concerning her right to
the money which had thus come into her possession, and as she lay there
planning the things she was going to get with it, she enjoyed to the
full the dignity of ownership. How glad her mother would be when there
was a decent water-pail in the house, plates enough of one kind to go
round, and a table-cloth that was not nearly all darns! Then her mother
should have a new shawl and bonnet, and each of the boys a straw hat and
a bright necktie, and she would have something to put in the plate every
Sunday in church, and to add to the missionary collection of the
Sunday-school class. Perhaps, even, she could give something toward a
present that the girls were talking of giving to Miss Eunice.
But just then an idea, so painful that at first she turned away from
it, struck her, and a question that she did not want to answer suggested
itself to her mind. Had she a right to keep the money? Was it really
hers? Of course it was, said inclination; whose else could it be? She
had found it, no one else; if she had not picked it up it would have
gone in with the rags to be boiled and ground up into paper again, or it
might have been swept away among the dust and waste paper, and no one
been the better or wiser. "Findings is keepings" was a familiar
school-boy proverb; was it the right principle or not?
Katie tried to persuade herself that it was. Nevertheless, she was glad
that, as she supposed, no one had seen her find the bill, and that her
mother as yet knew nothing about the finding. Also, she did not plan out
any more ways of spending the money.
Katie was so silent all teatime that her brothers continually rallied
her upon her preoccupation, and her mother, fearing she must be sick,
sent her to bed very early. To this the little girl did not object, as
she wanted to be alone to think over the question that was so
perplexing her brain.
Before getting into bed, our young friend opened her drawer, took out
the box, gazed lovingly at the bill for a time, then put it away, and
knelt to say her evening prayer. What was the matter to-night? For
almost the first time since she had known what prayer really was, she
could not pray. Her thoughts would not be controlled; they kept
wandering away to the finding of that bill. She wondered whether any one
had seen her find it, what use she should put it to, and if it were
really hers after all. She knew it was wrong to think of other things at
such a solemn moment, and felt guilty and condemned. Her conscience
troubled her; it seemed as though God were angry with her. So far the
finding of the money had not been a very happy event for its finder. It
often happens that secular things, the things we are interested in in
our daily lives, will come in between us and our prayers, and we cannot
get rid of them. Young Christians especially are greatly troubled in
this way, and have many weary fights in the attempt to control their
thoughts. They have an idea that prayer is such a sacred thing, and God
is so holy, that they must only talk to him about religion, and use
pretty much the same words which they hear in church, and when they
cannot do this, they either fall into the habit of saying such words
formally without in the least thinking of their meaning, or else they
are wretched and self-condemned because of what are called "distractions
in prayer." But there is a more excellent way, even to take all the
things that really interest us directly to "our Father which art in
heaven," and tell him all about them. He encourages us to do so when he
says, "casting all your care upon him," and "in everything by prayer
and supplication make your requests known unto God." If we are really
his children we may be sure that nothing is too small to interest him
which rightfully interests us, and if it is not a right interest there
is no surer way of finding that out, and gaining the victory over it,
than by bringing it to the light of his Holy Spirit and asking him for
strength to dispose of it as we ought.
Had Katie thus taken the money which she had found directly to the
Lord, she would soon have understood all her duty concerning it. Her
desire would have been only to do his will, and she would have gone to
sleep as peacefully as a little child who trusts its mother to manage
for it just as she sees to be for the best. But this she did not dare to
do, partly because she had not yet learned to understand how God
"careth" for his children in all little things, and partly because down
at the bottom of her heart she was not quite ready to do his will—that
is, she hoped that it would be right for her to keep the money, and
hoped this so strongly that she could not look fairly on the other side
of the question. Nearly all night—or it seemed so to a little girl who
was generally asleep by the time her head touched the pillow—she lay
tossing from side to side, troubled by a dozen different sides of the
question. And when she did get to sleep it was to dream confused dreams
of thieves being taken to prison, and of being one of them herself.
As soon as it was light, for the long days had come now, the tired
little girl sprang from her bed, and dressed herself, in a very unhappy
frame of mind. She must decide very soon now, and she began to see more
and more clearly that that money did not belong to her, but to the owner
of the vest in which she had found it. To be sure, she could not now
find the original owner, but Mr. Mountjoy certainly owned it, because he
had bought the rags. It was one thing, however, to see this, and quite
another to decide to give up to him who had so much the little that was
so much to her. All the pleasant planning must go with it; all the
things she had desired for her mother and the boys. She was sure she had
not been selfish; it was not for herself she wanted money at all. From
force of habit she opened her Bible and read the first words she saw,
which were these: "Thou desirest truth in the inward parts." And again
the words flashed upon her: "Thou God seest me."
What did God see? Did he see "truth in the inward part" of her heart?
Was she prepared in all her ways to acknowledge him? his right to her
and all that was hers?
Then she knelt down and did what she ought to have done the first
thing—told him, who understands and pities us "like as a father pitieth
his children," all about it, and asked him to forgive, to pity, and to
direct her. And now it all came to her, for God always keeps his word,
and he has promised to give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him, and
further that that blessed Spirit when he comes shall "guide us unto all
Whoever was the owner of that bill, she was not. It belonged to God
primarily, but he had given the disposal of it into the hands of him who
owned the rags. If she kept it, at least without telling him that she
had found it, she would be a thief! There was but one right way for
her, and that was to take it at once to him, tell him where she had
found it, and leave him to do as he thought best. To her mind there was
little doubt what he would do. People did not generally give away their
money, especially such large sums as fifty dollars seemed to her. All
her air-castles must fall to the dust, and the house must go on with the
old things as before.
Nevertheless, it was with a sense of absolute relief that Katie folded
that bill away in her little purse, and dropped it far down into her
pocket. If the "eyes of the Lord were in every place," they saw it
there, and they saw, too, into her heart, and saw there that the purpose
of doing his will had, by his grace, triumphed over her own desires, and
that was enough to make her once more the happy, bright Katie Robertson.
She was almost late at the mill this morning; had only just time to get
to her place as the short whistle sounded, and of course there was no
time to speak to Mr. Mountjoy. She commenced her work at once, and
continued it very diligently, never once looking around at the other
girls, so full was she of her own thoughts. Thus she did not see the
significant looks which Bertie cast at her from time to time, nor the
signs which she made to some of the other girls who, in their turn,
became curious and significant, and lost several pennies in fines,
because they could not help asking each other what was the matter.
Bertie had not exactly told the story as she knew it, but had
insinuated to one and another that she knew something that nobody else
knew about Katie Robertson; that, if she chose to tell all she knew,
people would not think her such a saint; that, for her part, she did not
believe in saints; when people pretended to be very religious they were
sure to be dishonest, etc. etc. She made such a mystery of her news that
the girls to whom she had made her half-confidence were worked up to a
great state of excitement, and the others were devoured with curiosity
to know what it could all be about.
But Katie worked quietly on. She had plenty of opportunity to change her
determination had she desired to do so, and indeed the temptation to
keep the money herself and say nothing about it presented itself again
and again to her mind. But now she knew it to be a temptation, and she
was strong to resist, because she had committed herself to One who was
mighty and his strength was made perfect in her weakness.
As soon as the noon-bell rang and the work-people all poured along the
corridors and out at the open doors, Katie knocked at the office door
and was told to "Come in!" by Mr. James, who happened to be alone
inside. Without a word the girl walked up to his desk and laid the bill
down beside him.
The young man started, stared, and finally said:—
"Where did you get this?"
"I found it in the rags, sir."
"Why did you bring it to me?"
"Because I think if it belongs to anybody it does to you, it was found
among your rags."
"Why did you not bring it to me at once?"
"Because—because I didn't think at first, and I wanted it so much."
"Did you?" said he, gravely. "You know the Bible says: 'Thou shalt not
Katie started; had she been breaking one of the commandments, after all?
Not the one about stealing, of which she had thought, but another.
"I didn't mean to do that," said she, in a low voice, "but we do want
things so much—mother, I mean. We are so poor."
"Are you?" said the young man, in a sympathizing tone. "Well, you are
an honest little girl to bring it to me at all. A great many would not
have done so, and I should have known nothing about it. Didn't you think
"Yes, sir; but God knew it, and that made all the difference. Besides, I
don't think I was quite honest; if I had been, I should have come to you
the first minute, and not thought about keeping it at all."
"Then you did have a little struggle about it?"
"Oh, yes, sir, I hardly slept all night. I didn't know what to do at
first, and then I didn't want to do it."
"But God gave you the victory," said the young man, reverently.
"I understand all about that, and how sweet it is to be helped by him,"
"Now," continued he, "I think he sent you that fifty-dollar bill
himself; first to try you, and then that you might help your mother to
buy all those things that you and she are so much in need of. It isn't
mine, for when I pay two cents a pound for old rags I do not buy fifty
dollar bills. Take it, and be just as happy with it as a thankful heart
can make you. Good-morning; I must hurry home to dinner."
A gladder little girl than Katie Robertson it would be hard to find. The
love of money is said to be the root of all evil, and so money itself
sometimes is, but that is according to how it is gotten and how used.
This bill would have been a root of bitter evil to the girl had she kept
it, in spite of an enlightened conscience, which told her to give it up;
and it would have been a root of evil to the young man, had he taken it,
as by the letter of the law he had an undoubted right to do, when he
knew the little girl needed it so much more than he did. As it was, it
was a seed of joy to both of them. Mr. James went home full of the joy
which is so like to Christ's joy, in having been kind to another at his
own expense; and Katie's heart could hardly hold the glad thankfulness,
both to him and to her heavenly Father, that filled it to overflowing,
and that was all the gladder because it was rooted in an approving
conscience, at peace with itself and at peace with God.
The precious piece of paper was displayed to the wondering mother and
brothers at the dinner-table that day. The story, or so much of it as
Katie could bring herself to relate, was told, and all enjoyed in
anticipation the comforts it was able to procure; but the best thing it
accomplished was to teach its finder where to go in time of perplexity
and temptation and in whose strength to be "more than conqueror."
[Footnote 1: 1 This whole occurrence is a positive fact.]
It was a lovely June Sunday. The seats of Squantown Sunday-school were
even more crowded than usual; the girls' side looking like a flower-bed
in its variety and brilliancy of color. Bertie Sanderson was there in
her new silk,—a brilliant cardinal,—looking strangely unsuitable to
the season; Gretchen, the German, in her woolen petticoat and jacket,
which she had not been long enough in the country to discard for summer
attire; the other girls in spring suits, and Katie Robertson in a lovely
pale-blue lawn and a white straw hat trimmed with the same color. It was
the prettiest costume the little girl had ever possessed, and as it was
all bought with her own earnings she may be pardoned for being very much
pleased with it. And yet it was as simple and inexpensive a summer
outfit as any one could have, and certainly was not fitted to excite the
hateful thoughts to which it was giving rise in Bertie's mind—Bertie,
clad in her unsuitable finery! This finery had not been the success that
Bertie expected. To be sure, it was a silk dress, and the brightest
color she could procure, but it had been made by the Squantown
dressmaker, and entirely lacked the fit and finish of Etta Mountjoy's
dresses, besides being in direct contrast to the delicate, harmonious
colors which the latter wore—a contrast which her admirer and would-be
imitator was quick to perceive when her own brilliant coloring had been
selected and it was too late to change. The disappointment made her
cross, and inclined her still more to look for flaws in Katie, whom she
began to hate as natures not sanctified by the grace of God are apt to
hate those who are trying to do his will, and are thus a constant rebuke
"Just look at her finery," said Bertie to her nearest neighbor, as Katie
entered, looking as fresh and sweet as a June rose, "and her mother so
poor. I could tell a story about how she got it that would make Miss
Etta open her eyes, and Miss Eunice, too, for all she makes such a pet
of the saint."
"What in the world do you mean?" said the other; but Bertie shook her
head and looked mysterious, of course thus exciting the curiosity of the
"Do tell me," she said.
"We know what we do know, don't we?" said Bertie, provokingly, appealing
to Gretchen, who nodded, but did not speak.
"Now, you're real mean," said the other, one Amelia Porter by name. "I
know something I won't tell you, that's all."
Just then the bell tapped for silence, and the rest of the conversation
was carried on in whispers, the only part which was heard being Amelia's
astonished "Stole it? You don't say so! I never would have thought of
such a thing."
But Katie did not hear. She was not thinking about her dress at all. The
lesson was to her a very interesting one—the oft-repeated story of the
tongues of fire that came down upon the early church, symbolizing the
mighty power of the Holy Spirit to enkindle divine emotions, enthusiasm,
and praise, and to make human tongues as flames of fire.
Miss Etta explained (for she had taken pains to study it up) how, in
the early, times one Sunday in June was observed in commemoration of
this descent of the Holy Ghost, and how, on that day, the new
Christians, who of course were originally heathen, having been at first
subjected to a long course of training, were baptized. They were called
catechumens, because they were catechised or questioned, and
candidates because they wore long white robes, candidus being the
Latin word for white, and by degrees the day came to be called
Whitsunday. Furthermore, Miss Etta told all about the Whitsuntide
festivals of old English times in the days of the corrupt church, when
festivities of the most riotous kind took place on the two days
following Sunday; and the girls left the school, if not impressed by the
holy teachings of the lessons, very full of a certain knowledge of that
kind which St. Paul says "puffeth up," and prepared to pass a brilliant
examination on the history and customs of Whitsuntide.
Very different was the pastor's sermon of that morning, which several of
our girls remembered all their lives. Its text was:—
"Ye are the temples of the Holy Ghost."
And the speaker showed first what the temples of old times were; not
places of meeting, as our churches to a great extent are, but
dwelling-places, homes where God, or rather "the gods," were supposed to
live. This idea was the one used as an illustration by St. Paul in the
text, which means that God has made all human hearts to be his home
and dwelling-place, and that if we will let him, not barring the doors
with sin and filling up the inside with other things, he will live there
always; or, as our Lord Jesus says: "If any man will open unto me, I
will come in unto him and will sup with him;" and in another place,
"will abide with him." Then he explained so that the youngest of his
audience could understand what are the sins that bar the door against
our blessed Saviour, and how we set up idols upon the altars of God's
temple, by worshiping dress, vanity, pride, revenge, worldliness, and
our own way, and showed how nobody can really worship God and have him
abiding in his holy temple who yields obedience to anything or cares for
anything more than his will. He said it was an awful thing to defile
the temple of God by such things as drinking, smoking, and swearing, or
even by evil thoughts and dishonest intentions, by selfish motives and
unkindness in word or deed.
He closed his sermon in these words:—
"My hearers, every one of you is a temple of the Holy Ghost, built and
fashioned with exquisite skill, for his own chosen dwelling-place. See
to it that ye defile not this temple, and if it be in any wise already
defiled, from without or within, at once seek the double cleansing,
which flows from the Cross on Calvary, that thus your sacred temple may
be washed whiter than snow. Dethrone the idol Self which has so long
usurped the place of God upon its altar, and let him rule alone. And
remember that every other human soul is likewise a sacred temple, no
matter how defiled and degraded it has become by yielding itself
willingly to the dominion of sin. Strive to do all that in you lies, by
kind, persuasive words, by example and effort, to cleanse the degraded
and polluted temples, and so do all in your power to exalt the dominion
and worship of God in all the human souls which he has made."
The impression made by this sermon upon its hearers was in accord with
the character and religious development of each.
James Mountjoy resolved to be more active and energetic in all efforts
to improve the condition of his work-people, to raise the fallen, to
reclaim the sinful, to set a better example and raise a higher standard
of moral excellence, that the human temples over whom he had influence
might be better fitted for the abiding presence of their heavenly Guest.
Some of the more thoughtful of his boys resolved that smoking, drinking,
and swearing should no longer, even in a slight degree, defile the
"temples" entrusted to their keeping.
Eunice Mountjoy made a more entire consecration of herself than ever
before to God's service, praying that there might be no hidden idols in
her temple; that self and self-seeking might be forever cast out, even
as our Lord cast out the money-changers and traffickers from the temple
at Jerusalem; that God's will in all things might be hers, and that she
might devote not a part only, but all her time, all her faculties,
all her influence to his service in doing good to others, and thus
"worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness."
Katie Robertson felt that she had understood some things to-day as never
before. What but the presence of the Holy Spirit in her heart had
enabled her to see the right and strengthened her to do it, and thus
come off victorious over temptation? She remembered how the Holy Ghost
is symbolized by a pure white dove, and she longed that her temple
should also be a soft, white nest full of pure desires and kindly
thoughts, and that nothing she might do or say in her daily life, among
her companions or at home, should grieve that blessed heavenly
Even Bertie Sanderson had been struck with the sermon. If her heart was
indeed a temple of the Holy Ghost, how was she defiling it? Envy,
hatred, and malice were allowed to run riot there; love of dress and
vanity were the idols enthroned on the altar; pride, disobedience,
irreverence, contempt of rightful authority, idleness, and
unfaithfulness were barring the door and keeping the loving Saviour,
who stood knocking there, from coming into his own.
Bertie felt uncomfortable; the Holy Spirit was speaking to her, and she
could not help but hear. But to hear and to obey are two very different
things. The girl knew that she could unbar the closed door of her heart
if she chose. One earnest, sincere prayer would bring the omnipotent aid
of the Spirit to cast out the evil things and cleanse the defilement.
But she did not want them cast out; she loved them too well. It would
be all very well to have Christ's love, pity, forgiveness, and
protection, and to be sure of heaven when she died; but to be a
Christian—a saint she would have called it—now, to give up the things
that most interested her, and live a life of self-denial and
obedience,—she had no idea of doing any such thing. So, to drown the
voice that she could not help hearing but did not mean to obey, she went
off on a Sunday afternoon's excursion with some of the boys and girls,
received a sharp reprimand from her father for so doing, and went back
to her work on Monday morning more rebellious, more hardened, more idle,
more malicious than before.
The blessed Holy Spirit is always longing to have us come to Christ and
walk in his holy and happy ways. He watches for an opportunity to speak
to us, and does speak, again and again, inclining us to give up sin and
choose holiness, offering us, if we will do so, all the help we need.
But he will not force us to obey his gentle call. If we will not
listen and obey, he lets us go off on our self-chosen path, ceases to
speak audibly to us, and patiently waits for another and more propitious
season. Bertie Sanderson, that June Sunday, greatly "grieved the
But not so did Etta Mountjoy. This young lady, ever since that first
Wednesday when she attended her sister's tea-party, had thought more
seriously than she had ever thought before. The duty of being a
Christian had come home to her during Eunice's talk and prayer, and at
the same time she had felt that she was not, and had never tried to be,
one. She had seen this still more clearly during the subsequent
meetings, from which her duty to her own class would not permit her to
be absent. Dishonesty and hypocrisy were not Etta's vices; she could
not pretend to be what she was not, and yet she could not shake off the
impression that she ought to give herself to Christ and openly confess
his name. She tried to put the subject out of her thoughts; but still,
as she listened, day by day, she grew more and more dissatisfied with
herself, her own character, her aims in life. The preparation of her
Sunday-school lessons became a dreaded task, for it was impossible to
minutely consider the shells of sacred things and not at the same time
take cognizance of the spiritual kernels which they envelop, and these
spiritual realities made her uncomfortable and more and more
dissatisfied with herself.
This Sunday's sermon had gone to the very quick of Etta's conscience,
painting as with a finger of light what she ought to be and what she
was. God had made her for his own temple and dwelling-place; made her
fair, outside and within; endowed her with intellectual and spiritual
gifts, and with wealth, station, and influence, giving her opportunities
for culture and usefulness far greater than most of those who surrounded
her. It was not chance or accident, but God, who had given her all
this, and he demanded, as he had a right to demand, in return, her love,
her obedience, her service. Had she given him these? Never once in her
whole life. She had set up upon his altar in the midst of his beautiful
temple the idol of self-pleasing, and never in her whole seventeen years
had she acted from any other motive than to please herself. It was
sacrilege, it was idolatry, it was dishonesty; and so were all the
actions which had come from such a corrupt source.
Etta was too clear-headed to suppose that any sudden change of practice,
which it was in her power to commence now, would make any difference.
She might obey mechanically, but she could not make herself love,
and she did not love, God. His service was a weariness, prayer a
formality, the Bible a dull, uninteresting book. She did love a light,
gay, frivolous life; she saw no attractiveness in one of self-denial and
She went directly to her room on reaching home, refused to go down to
dinner, sat behind the shaded blinds, and thought till thought became
insupportable; and then, having come to one settled determination, put
on her hat, covered her tear-stained face with a veil, and walked down
the hill to the parsonage, and rang the bell with a nervous jerk.
Whatever Etta did she did with a will; she made no halfway decisions.
The servant who admitted "Miss Etta" showed her into the pastor's study,
where after a time he joined her, looking a little surprised at
receiving such a visitor on Sunday afternoon. Etta's peculiarities,
however, were well known, and he concluded she had some new project in
her head, in which she desired his assistance and, as usual, could not
wait a moment to put it into execution. He was rather surprised by the
tear-swollen eyes and the resolute expression of face, and after
courteously welcoming his visitor, waited somewhat impatiently to hear
what she had to say.
"I came," said the girl, with her usual directness, "to ask you to give
my Sunday-school class to some one else."
"Tired of holding your hand to the plow, and beginning to look back
already, eh?" he said.
"No, sir, it isn't that; but I am not fit to teach any class; certainly
not such a one as this. I don't myself know what those girls ought to
learn; besides, I'm not a fit character for them to imitate."
"Not a fit character? What can you mean?"
So far Etta had spoken quite steadily, but now there came a tremor into
her voice, a mist before her eyes, and a choking sensation in her
throat, that would not let her speak.
He waited a few moments, then said gently: "Try to tell me about it, and
I will help you if I can."
Encouraged by something fatherly in the clergyman's voice, the girl at
last found courage to commence her story; and having broken the ice, her
words came fluently enough, as she tried to make him understand how
utterly self-seeking and godless her life and character were; how the
temple that should be God's was barred against him, and filled with
idols and idolatry.
"This must be the Holy Spirit's teachings," said he, gravely; "for, so
far as I know, you are no worse or more careless than most girls of
But this thought was no comfort to her thoroughly aroused conscience,
nor did the minister suppose it would be. He continued:
"Now that you see how bad things are, you are going to change them, are
you not? You will open the barred doors that our blessed Lord wants to
enter, and let him henceforth be your one object of worship and
obedience, will you not?"
"How can I?" said the astonished girl. "I can't make myself like
"No; but it is the Holy Ghost who desires to come into his holy temple,
and where he comes he brings healing, cleansing, and regenerating power.
What we have to do is to let him do his work, not hindering him by our
self-will and disobedience, not even trying to feel as we think we
ought to feel."
"But I am not worthy to have him come to me. For seventeen years I have
been sinning against him and grieving him. Even if I were made right all
at once, I could not undo all that."
"But Jesus can," he said solemnly. "Have you forgotten the cross, and
all that it means? Have you forgotten that he died to bear the penalty
of sin, and that for his sake the worst sinners can be forgiven? We are
none of us worthy to come to him, or, which is the same thing, to have
him come to us; but he is the 'propitiation, sacrifice, and satisfaction
for the sins of the whole world'; it is not what you can do or be, but
what he has done and is. Believe that he loves you, and died for you,
and is your Saviour, and you cannot help loving and trusting him and
letting his Spirit do with you as he will."
Was that all? So simple, so easy, and yet an hour ago it had seemed so
impossible to be a Christian. She did not speak for some minutes; then
"Have I nothing at all to do?"
"A great deal by-and-by; only one thing to-day."
"And that is?"
"To be sure that you are in earnest, that you are thoroughly ashamed of,
and sorry for, the past, really anxious to be delivered from sin and
made holy, and resolutely determined obediently to follow where God
leads the way."
"I believe I am in earnest," said she, simply. "Won't you pray for me,
"Yes, indeed, my child," said the minister, laying his hand on her head.
"God bless you, and make you very happy in his love, and useful in his
"You will provide a teacher for my class?" said Etta, as somewhat later
she rose to take her leave.
"Why, no; unless you are really tired of it. I think you had better go
on as you have commenced."
"I am not fit to be a Sunday-school teacher."
"I am not fit to be a minister; but God, in his providence, has seen fit
to make me one, and so I trust him to give me the strength and wisdom I
need. If you will do the same, you will become a very successful and
efficient Sunday-school teacher; and this is a good way in which to
consecrate your talents and opportunities to his service. Now, good-by;
I must prepare for the evening service. Whenever you want help, advice,
or sympathy, be sure you come to me."
Etta went home in a new world of thought and feeling. She seemed to
herself scarcely to be the same girl; but in fact she was not thinking
particularly about herself. God's love in desiring to save sinners,
Christ's love in dying for them, the love of the Holy Spirit in being
willing to come and abide with them, filled all her soul, and she was
not trying to love this triune God, but loving him with all her might,
because she could not help doing so. How strange it is that we go on
from year to year, trying to be better, trying to feel right, trying to
make ourselves holy, instead of just opening the door of the temple of
our heart and believing that Jesus Christ loves us, and because he
loves us will make us all that he wants us to be.
UNDER A CLOUD.
Meanwhile there were some changes at the mill. Katie Robertson had been
promoted to the folding-room, which was on the lower floor, and where
the work was not so heavy, though the payment was much better. She now
received seventy-five cents for a regular day's work, and might often
have made a dollar if her mother would have allowed her to work a half
or quarter day extra. This promotion came soon after the occurrence of
the fifty-dollar bill, which, no doubt, had something to do with the
higher place in Mr. James's estimation, which the little girl held in
consequence. He took occasion to inquire of Miss Peters concerning her
work, and heard such a good account of her industry, capability, and
faithfulness that he felt sure she might be trusted with pleasanter
occupation and that which needed greater skill.
To enable our young readers who have never seen the process of
paper-making to understand the change in our heroine's surroundings, we
will tell them in a few words how paper is made.
As, of course, is universally known, rags, straw, old rope, poplar pith,
etc., are the materials used. The best writing-paper is made of linen
rags, which are for the most part imported from Germany. For ordinary
writing and printing paper cotton rags are used, while straw and hemp,
and even wool, go largely into the construction of manilla and wrapping
paper. The linen rags and the woolen ones are generally sorted out in
the places where they are gathered, at which time the others are all
packed into bales, when, after passing through various hands, they are
brought to the different paper-mills. Here the bales are hoisted to the
top loft of the building, where they are broken and their contents
turned over and over and subjected to a fanning process which removes a
large part of the dust. They are then passed through slides down into
the rag-room, where, as we have seen, they are sorted, cut in pieces,
and the buttons taken off. They are cut again, in the next room to
which they are carried, by a revolving cylinder whose surface is covered
with short, sharp knives, acting on each other much like the blades of
scissors. From here they are passed into the interior of a long,
horizontal, copper boiler containing a solution of soda and some other
chemical substances, and boiled for several days, at the end of which
time, the dirt being thoroughly loosened, the boiling mass is passed
through a long slide into vats, through which a constant stream of water
is flowing, and so thoroughly washed that it becomes as white as snow
and looks like raw, white cotton. It is then taken into another room,
packed into a "Jordan engine," and ground into an almost impalpable
pulp. This pulp is passed into other vats thoroughly mixed with water,
blueing, and some other substances calculated to give it a hard finish,
and then conveyed by pipes to the drying-room, where it is distributed
over the surface of fine wire netting stretched on cylinders and looking
much like "skim milk." It is now passed from cylinder to cylinder,
dropping the water with which it is mixed as it goes, and gradually
taking, more and more, the consistency of paper. At one stage—if it is
to be writing-paper, which was chiefly manufactured at Squantown
Mills—a certain amount of glue is poured upon it by means of little
tubes which are over the cylinders, and this gradually becomes pressed
into the fibre, giving the paper the shining surface to which we are
accustomed. This is called sizing. At another stage the wire netting
is changed for a blanket which passes over the cylinders and keeps the
weak, wet paper from friction, as well as from any chance of breaking.
Steam is now introduced into the cylinders, and the drying process goes
on so rapidly that, at the end of the long room, the pulp issues from
between the two last cylinders in sheets of firm, dry, white paper,
which are cut off in lengths by stationary knives, and caught and laid
in place by two boys or girls who sit at a table just below. So complete
and perfect is the machinery that, in addition to the two boys, only one
man is needed in the room, and he only to watch lest either of the
machines gets out of order, or lest the paper should accidentally break.
It is quite fascinating to watch the thin pulp as it gradually becomes
strong paper, and Katie one day overheard a gentleman visitor, to whom
Mr. James was explaining the process, say something that she never
"It makes me think of God's way of dealing with human souls. He takes
them, polluted and sinful, from the gutters and the slums of life, cuts
and fashions them till they are in a condition to be used; then washes
out their stains by his precious blood, grinds, moulds, dissolves, and
manipulates them, till they come out pure, innocent, white paper, on
which he can write just what he pleases."
"Yes," said Mr. James. "I have often thought out that analogy, but you
have not yet seen the whole process. No saint is completed till he has
gone through the polishing and finishing of his life and character. You
will see how we polish and finish our paper in the next room."
In the next room were great steel rollers, at each of which two women
were employed, as this work was generally considered too hard and
steady, as well as too particular, for the girls and boys. One of these
women places a sheet of paper between the rollers at the top; the engine
turns them, carrying the paper round and round between them, and the
other woman takes it out at the bottom, beautifully polished by the
It is then carried in great piles to the ruling-machines, which stand at
the other end of the room, and there other girls and women act as
"feeders" and "tenders." The sheets are carried under upright,
stationary pens, filled with blue or red ink, and ruled first on one
side and then on the other, the machine never letting go of the sheets
till the ruling is perfectly dry.
The paper is now finished, but it must be prepared for being taken away
and sold; so great piles of it are placed on barrows, and it is carried
by the "lift" down to the lowest room of all, called the "folding-room,"
and this is a very gay, busy scene.
Multitudes of girls are at work here, and everything is so clean that no
checked aprons or mob-caps are needed. Some of them count out the paper,
first into quires, and then into reams and half-reams. Others fold the
sheets with an evenness and rapidity that only long practice can give;
others, again, stamp each sheet in the corner with a die; and still
others fold the reams—after they have been pressed together—into the
pretty, colored wrappers prepared for them, sealing them with wax, and
putting the packages, two together, into heavy brown papers, which are
closed with the label peculiar to the special brand of paper.
There was plenty of work for everybody, and there was, moreover, a
variety, and Katie felt very much elated at her promotion when she first
came into the gay, pleasant folding-room.
But the poor girl was destined to meet with a very bitter
disappointment. Perhaps the most severe trial of her life awaited her in
that pleasant room. She had only been there a few days when she became
aware that she was looked upon with suspicion. The superintendent
watched her closely, and carefully verified the accounts she gave of her
work. The girls with whom she tried to make acquaintance turned away,
and either answered her in monosyllables or else declined speaking at
all, and often when she came in suddenly before work had commenced two
or three who were mysteriously whispering together would suddenly stop
and look curiously and strangely at her. Once or twice she overheard
some disconnected words, of which the following are specimens: "What was
it really?"—"You don't say so!"—"Dishonesty!"—"I never should have
thought it!"—"Are you sure?"—"Bertie Sanderson!"—"She saw it
herself," etc. etc. Katie, having no key to these disjointed sentences,
could make nothing of them, but she felt that she was what school boys
call "sent to Coventry," and had not the least idea why.
The fact was that Bertie, whose jealous dislike was greatly increased by
Katie's promotion, while she herself remained in the rag-room, had
uttered her innuendoes to all who would listen to her, till it was
pretty generally understood throughout the mill that Katie Robertson was
a thief, who appeared in unbecoming finery bought with ill-gotten gains.
The rumor never took sufficient definiteness of shape to reach the girl
so that she could confute it and explain its origin. Of course, she was
not likely to tell any one in the mill about the finding of the
fifty-dollar bill and what had passed between Mr. James Mountjoy and
herself, since it was largely to her own credit, nor had he ever thought
of mentioning it, for a somewhat similar reason. So the report traveled
from one mouth to another, losing nothing in its passage, and poor Katie
was obliged to endure the general avoidance and reprobation as best she
might. It was a hard trial and one in which she had no one to sympathize
with her, for Mrs. Robertson's gloomy disposition inclined her children
to keep from her anything that might add to her unhappiness, and somehow
she did not feel like making confidants of the boys. But hard as the
trial seemed in the passing, it was, in the end, good for our heroine,
for it drove her to the only Friend who knew all about it, who knew that
she was innocent of the charge, whatever it might be, and pitied and
loved her, whoever else might cast her out. The things which drive us
close to Him, no matter how hard they seem, are really blessings in
disguise. Katie had now but one friend in the mill, a slight, pale
girl, who stood by the folding-table next to herself. She had only just
come to the mill, was intimate with no one, and, so far, had not heard
the story, whatever it was, about Katie Robertson. Her name was Tessa.
Her father, who had been a traveling organ-grinder, was taken sick and
died very suddenly at Squantown. His little dark-eyed girl, who
accompanied him, was left perfectly destitute and in a most desolate
condition. She was at first taken care of in the poor-house, but as she
grew older, and it was thought best that she should do something for her
own support, Mr. Mountjoy had been appealed to, and had given her a
place in the mill. Not in the rag-room, however, for she had such a
delicate constitution that it was supposed she never could stand the
dust. Her work consisted in pasting the fancy paper over the edges of
little "pads," intended for doctors' use in writing their prescriptions,
and when she was tired she was allowed to have a seat. She could not
make much, but what she did receive sufficed to pay for her room in the
factory boarding-house, and Tessa was as happy as she could be without
The Italian girl had conceived a strong admiration for our bright
little Katie, and by degrees the two girls became great friends. Tessa's
love was the silver lining to the cloud under whose shadow her companion
But the heaviest part of the cloud was that the story reached Miss Etta.
She had noticed the general avoidance of Katie by the other girls in her
class, and was very much at a loss to account for it, for to her this
scholar had always seemed the best and brightest of them all, and she
could see no change in her reverent, attentive behavior, her carefully
prepared lessons, and her evident understanding and enjoyment of the
spiritual truths which they contained. This latter point she could
appreciate better than before, and she often shrank in humility from
attempting to teach Katie anything, feeling herself better fitted to be
the pupil. But the girls evidently did not feel so. What could be the
One day, when all had left the Sunday-school, except Bertie, she stopped
her and asked her directly why neither she nor the other girls were
willing to sit next to Katie Robertson, and why they all looked at her
so significantly when she came in or went out.
Bertie flushed, whether with joy or shame it would have been hard to
say, and at first would not answer; but on her teacher's insisting, said
that she didn't want to tell tales, etc.
The young lady saw that nevertheless her scholar was running over with
her secret and longing for an opportunity to divulge it, and, had she
been a little older and more experienced, she would not have given her
the opportunity. But Etta was very curious, and, moreover, thought she
had a right to know all that concerned her Sunday scholars, so she
waited until her patience was rewarded by the whole story—that is, the
version of it that Bertie's vindictive fancy chose to give.
She learned that Katie had been seen by two of the girls in the mill to
steal a large sum of money, which she had appropriated to the use of
herself and family; that by degrees one after another had heard of it,
and that of course honest girls who had their own way to make did not
like to associate with a thief.
On being asked who the girls were that had seen the action, and why
they had not at once given information concerning it, Bertie declined to
give any answer to the first part of her question, and professed entire
ignorance concerning the latter; only she said: "All the girls knew, and
of course couldn't associate with a sly thief, especially when she gave
herself the airs of a saint."
Etta was very much troubled. She could not believe such a story of her
best pupil, and yet how could she contradict it? Without names and
particulars she did not know how to set about investigating the truth;
nor did she like to ask any one's advice, and thus cast suspicion upon
"What makes you so tired to-day, Tessa?" said Katie, one morning when the
"rules" allowed the girls to speak.
"I don't know; I always do feel so in the mornings. It's awfully hard to
get up. Don't you find it so?"
"I did at first, but I am getting used to it now. By the time I am
dressed I am wide-awake and fit for anything. I don't see why you should
feel so; I am afraid you're sick."
"Oh, no; only stupid and sleepy; I'll wake up by-and-by," and Tessa drew
from her pocket a thin, square volume which was tightly rolled up. The
noon-whistles sounded just then, and Katie saw her companion curl
herself up on a box in the corner and at once lose herself in her book.
She still sat there when her friend returned, rosy and refreshed after
her warm dinner and two brisk walks, and, as there were still a few
moments before work must be resumed, the latter walked across the room
and playfully took the book from the other's hand.
"Don't! oh, please, don't!" said Tessa. "Time's most up, and I must
know what became of Sir Reginald!"
"You must eat your lunch. Look, here it lies untasted beside you.
Tessa, you will certainly be sick if you go on in this way."
But Tessa did not listen; she had again firmly grasped the book, and was
greedily devouring its contents quite dead to outside things, till, the
bell ringing, Katie jogged her shoulder, and she walked slowly across to
the table where both girls worked, her eyes still upon her book. There
she set it up, still open, against a pile of packages of paper, and all
the afternoon kept casting furtive glances at it, often letting her work
drop and her hands hang idle, while she followed the fortunes of the
fascinating Sir Reginald.
Katie was in an agony; she loved Tessa, and did not want her to get into
trouble, as she would certainly do if her proceedings should be observed
by the overseer. Besides, was it honest thus to use time paid for by an
But she had no chance to speak to her companion, for as usual she
finished her work and went home, and whether her companion received a
reprimand from the overseer for not having completed her daily task she
did not know. Probably she did not, for it was an understood thing that
Tessa was not so strong as the other girls, and therefore so much must
not be expected of her.
The next day it was the same thing. Tessa looked tired out before the
day's work began, and well she might, for she had sat up nearly all
night to dispose of Sir Reginald, and now "The Fair Barmaid" had taken
his place. Again the girl went without the uninviting lunch she had
brought from her boarding-house, and again, as before, the fascinating
novel divided her attention with her work. This afternoon she was
detected by the overseer, who spoke a few words of reprimand and ordered
her to put the book away, which she did unwillingly and with heightened
color. It came out again, however, the moment the closing-bell rang;
and, to make up for lost time, was assiduously read during the homeward
walk, and took the place of both supper and sleep till almost daylight
the next morning.
Poor Tessa! she had inherited from her ancestry that love of romance and
adventure which, in their own sunny land, makes the Italians rival the
Orientals in their love of hearing and telling stories. The more
thrilling these stories are, the fuller of passion and crime, the better
they seem to suit the tastes of these fervid and excitable natures. And
she was alone; there was no one to counsel her, no one to love her, no
one even to talk to in the long evenings she must of necessity spend in
her bare room at the factory boarding-house, hot and stifling in summer,
cold and bare in winter. She had been taught to read at the poor-house
school and a stray dime novel happening to fall in her way, her
imagination, waiting for something on which to feed itself, seized upon
the unhealthful food, and gratified taste quickly ripened into
insatiable appetite. The girl read everything she could lay hold of, and
there is always plenty of such literature close at hand and ready to be
devoured. Novels at five cents apiece are sold by the million at country
stores, railway-depots, and news-stations. Ephemeral in their nature,
every one who owns them is ready to lend, give, or throw them away, and
when books fail there are always quantities of "story-papers," full of
the wildest, most improbable, and often vicious tales.
Tessa bought when she had any spare pennies, borrowed and begged when
she had not; read by daylight, and twilight, and lamplight, sitting up
as long as the miserable boarding-house lamps would hold out, and became
so immersed in her world of romance as to become almost oblivious to
To do the little girl justice, she was too innocent to understand half
the wickedness which in this way was brought before her notice, but none
the less was she being gradually demoralized by this evil habit. Her
appetite failed, she scarcely took any exercise, she became nervous and
excitable to a degree, her work was neglected, and, worse still, she was
becoming familiarized with ideas, suggestions, and thoughts that should
never come within the comprehension of pure-minded girls. As to her
work, she was fast losing all interest in, indeed all capacity for,
that, and it was whispered among her superiors that but for her utterly
friendless condition it would be expedient to supply her place in the
mill with some more profitable work-woman.
"Miss Eunice," said Katie, at the next Wednesday afternoon meeting, "is
it wicked to read novels?"
"What a wholesale question," said Miss Eunice. "It is not wicked
exactly to do a great many things which it would be better on the whole
to let alone—tipping one's chair up on two legs, for instance."
Katie blushed, righted her chair, and said: "I mean wrong; is it wrong
to read novels?"
"Not all novels, certainly; that is, not all fiction. The best writers
of our day throw their thoughts into that form, and our knowledge of
history, philosophy, science, and character comes largely from this
source. Our Saviour sanctified fiction by giving his highest and deepest
lessons to his disciples in parables. If you mean that kind of novels,
read in moderation, I should decidedly say no."
"She means dime novels," said one of the girls.
"Oh, 'Headless Horsemen' and 'Midnight Mysteries,' fascinating maidens
carried off by desperate ruffians. I am thankful to say that I have no
personal acquaintance with that sort of thing; but, girls, let me ask
you a few questions. May I?"
"First, let all who read, or ever have read, what are called 'sensation
stories' raise their hands."
A great many hands went up—more than the questioner liked to see.
"How many find such books help them in their work, make the factory seem
pleasanter, and themselves more contented?"
Not a hand was raised, and the girl who had spoken before said:—
"I never can work half as well in the morning when I have been reading
stories at night. I hate the sight of the factory, and wish I was a
princess, or a splendidly dressed young lady with oceans of gold and
jewels, like those in the books."
"Another question: Do books of this kind help you to pray, make the
Bible more interesting, and incline you to loving service for the
Saviour who has died that you might be saved?"
No one answered. The girls looked both surprised and shocked, and Miss
"On the contrary, I dare say many of you remember times when the
thrilling interest of an exciting story has made you utterly forget your
prayers, or at any rate has made church and Sunday-school and the homely
duties of a Christian life seem tame and flat by comparison. Is it not
Many bowed assent.
"Now for my last question: Would you be willing that your fathers and
brothers or the young men of your acquaintance should read all of these
books with you, every passage, and could you, without blushing, read
them aloud to your pastor or to me?"
"There is another aspect of the question," continued the teacher. "Your
employers pay you a stipulated sum in return for a certain amount of
work to be done in a certain amount of time. They have a right to expect
you to give your best skill, your closest attention. Do you think it is
quite honest either to use a part of that time in reading foolish,
useless, or hurtful books, or to come to your work so exhausted and
preoccupied by them as to be unfitted for performing your part of the
"I do not desire to coerce you, or even to bind your consciences by any
promise, but I leave you to consider all I have said, and I think if you
do so honestly and prayerfully you will come to the conclusion that for
you who hope you have found your Saviour,—nay, I will say for all,
inasmuch as you all ought to be Christians,—the reading of this kind of
books and stories is among those works of the flesh and the devil which
you are called to renounce."
Katie had got the answer she had asked for, and besides she was well
furnished with arguments to bring to bear upon Tessa the first
opportunity she should have of talking with her, and that, she
determined, should be very soon.
When the girls and their escorts had gone home that evening, the two
sisters lingered to talk a little over the question that had so
interested their scholars. It was a new thing for them to have any
common interest, and Eunice hailed it as a good omen that her sister
should consult with her about anything. Etta had not yet confided to her
elder sister her new hopes, purposes, and feelings. She was an
independent girl, who had always thought and acted for herself, and
there had never been anything like sisterly familiarity between the
eldest and youngest of the Mountjoys. The distance between them was too
great, and perhaps the elder, in filling the position of a mother to her
little sister, had at first assumed a little too much of the authority
of one. She had grown wiser now, and did not attempt to force the young
girl's confidence; but she could not but be conscious of a change. There
was an increased gentleness of manner and sweetness of tone, a
thoughtful consideration of others, and deference to her own wishes
which she had never seen before. Her continuing to attend the Wednesday
meetings, and her serious attention when there, were good signs; so was
Etta's voluntary attendance at the Sunday evening service, a thing that
had never happened before, and Eunice began to hope that the solemn,
earnest realities of life would yet become precious to her
light-hearted, wayward sister.
This evening they talked over the novel grievance, and the temptations
to which the mill-girls were exposed, and Etta proposed a plan for their
benefit, which, when matured and digested, besides being supported by
Mr. Mountjoy's purse and his son's executive ability, eventuated in the
conversion of an unused loft in the mill into a library and reading-room
for the girls and such of their brothers and friends as knew how to
appreciate its benefits by behaving like gentlemen.
The books were chosen with great care, and were the best of their kind
to be had—popular science, history, and biography, with a large, a very
large, proportion of such fiction as had a tendency to elevate and
instruct, while it interested, its readers. The books were not to be
taken from the building, except upon rare occasions and under peculiar
circumstances; but the reading-room, which was nicely carpeted, well
warmed, and furnished with long tables and comfortable chairs, was open
during the noon intermission and for two hours every evening, and good
behavior was the only condition demanded for enjoying both its social
and literary privileges. The library soon became a very popular
institution, and the sale and consumption of sensational literature
Before separating for the night, Etta said: "Did you notice the girl who
asked the question about novels?"
"Katie Robertson? Yes; I have had my eye on her for a long time. She
seems the most promising subject of your class."
"So I have always thought; but I have had a terrible disappointment in
her. No one would suppose it, but I have recently heard that she is a
thief, and that to a large amount. The child, innocent as she looks, has
actually stolen fifty dollars from our mill."
"That is absolutely impossible! I will not believe it. Who told you so,
"One of the class. Bertie Sanderson. She was not at all willing to tell
tales on her companion, but I questioned her and found it is as I say.
She assures me that all the girls know about it, and that two of
them—she did not give their names—saw the theft."
"Why did they not inform about it at once?"
"So I asked her; but she did not seem to know, and also declined giving
the names of the two girls. That was a little more honorable than I gave
Bertie credit for being."
"A little more deceitful, possibly," said Eunice, who had no high
opinion of Bertie Sanderson; "yet, if she were herself one of these
girls, she would, I suppose, have been glad to say so. Where do you
suppose this child found fifty dollars to steal? Money is not kept loose
around the mill, and the girls do not have access to the office. There
is something we don't know about this, Etta. The subject ought to be
investigated. Have you spoken to James?"
"No, I don't want to prejudice him against Katie, if she should be
innocent; but I fear that is hardly possible, after what Bertie said."
"I should be more inclined to suspect Bertie herself. Where do you
suppose she got that flashy silk dress she wears?"
"Isn't it horrid! I wonder those girls don't see how vulgar their cheap
"Perhaps they try to copy their teacher," ventured the elder sister,
whose exquisitely neat style of dress was always remarkable for its
plainness and simplicity when she came in contact with her Sunday
scholars. But Etta was not yet sufficiently humbled to take reproof from
that source, and she abruptly left the room. All the same, however, she
thought and prayed a great deal upon the subject, and the next Sunday
surprised her class by appearing before them without an unnecessary
ribbon or ornament.
Katie Robertson remained in the mill that Saturday afternoon, although
her work had long been completed, till the bell rang for five o'clock,
that being the hour for the Saturday dismissal. Then she said to
"Come and take a walk with me. There's a full hour before tea, and I
don't believe you've ever seen the Fawn's Leap. Have you?"
"No," said her companion, "I have never been anywhere in Squantown. They
would not let us go, in the poor-house, and since I've been in the mill
I've been too tired after work was over."
"Are you very tired now?"
"Not so very; I did not sleep much last night."
"Was it a very interesting story?" said the other, archly.
"Oh, yes," said Tessa, becoming at once very much excited; "she,
Amanda, I mean, married the most elegant count, and he took her to his
castle, and she had pearls and diamonds and silks and satins, and never
had to do a thing all the rest of her life; and only think, Katie, she
was a mill-girl in the beginning, just like us." The sentence finished
with a sigh.
"Would you like a count to come and carry you off to a castle by-and-by,
and give you all those things?"
"Oh, indeed, yes; when the light goes out, and I can't read any more I
lie awake thinking about it, and wondering if such a count will ever
come along. He might, you know, any day."
"Does that make the mill seem any pleasanter in the morning?"
"No! no! I hate the mill. It looks so rough and bare, and the girls all
seem so common. I feel like crying to have to spend so many hours
"And then you can't do your work well. I know just how that feels. Miss
Eunice says it isn't honest to do anything that will unfit us for the
work we are paid for doing."
This was a new definition of dishonesty to Tessa, but she only said:—
"Who's Miss Eunice?"
"Oh, she's the teacher of the Bible-class; the nicest, most splendid
lady in the Sunday-school, except, of course, Miss Etta. She's our
teacher, you know, but she's so young she seems just like one of
"Do you go to Sunday-school?" said Tessa opening her eyes. "I thought
only little children went. Father said it was so in Italy."
"But everybody goes here. There's great big girls, quite young women, in
Miss Eunice's class. Tessa," said Katie, struck with a sudden idea,
"what do you do with yourself on Sundays?"
"I read," said the person addressed; "read all day long. I lie on the
bed in my room, and forget how hot it is and how lonely, and then when
it gets dark I remember beautiful Italy and cry."
"What a lonely life," said Katie, sympathetically. "Why don't you go to
"We never went to church, my father and I. He said the church had
ruined Italy, and he was not a Catholic any more."
"But we're not Catholics. Oh, I wish you would come to our church and
our Sunday-school! It's just as nice!—there's Miss Etta, and Bertie and
Gretchen and Cora, and two or three more, and on Wednesday Miss Eunice
invites our class and hers to tea, and reads to us, and we have a
society and work for missions and—oh, it's so nice!" said enthusiastic
"Do you go to Sunday-school just to have nice times?" and Tessa opened
her black eyes very widely.
"No," said her friend, more soberly; "I think I go there to learn more
about Jesus, and how to love him more and serve him better. Some of us
hope to join the church soon."
Tessa asked some questions that led to a long talk which lasted till
they had reached the Fawn's Leap, which was a beautiful little waterfall
shooting down between two high rocks, from one of which to the other a
fawn was reputed to have sprung. It was a very lovely spot, and the two
girls threw themselves upon the grass to rest, while the Italian drew
long inspirations of delight.
"It makes me think of home," she said; "the old home in Italy. We
lived, my father and I, close to a waterfall just like this, among the
mountains. After my mother died my father did not want to stay there, so
he went to Naples and bought an organ, and we came to America in a big
ship, and wandered about, and then"—her voice broke down then and she
said: "Oh, Katie, I am so lonely! if I only had a home like yours, with
people in it to talk to and to be kind to me, I should not want to read
so many stories. I don't believe they are good for me." This was in
reference to all Miss Eunice's talk about the evils of novel-reading as
repeated by Katie.
A sudden thought struck the latter.
"Tessa," she said, "it must be awfully lonely at your boarding-house in
the evenings and on Sundays. I wish you could come and live with me. I
have no companions but the boys, and to have you would be just
"Do you think I could? Do you think your mother would let me? Oh, Katie,
you can't really mean it!"
Katie had not taken her mother into consideration. Of course, she could
not be sure of her approbation of such a plan, but she promised to ask,
and went on planning how nice it would be—how the two girls could share
Katie's room and bed; how they could go to the mill together. "And
then," said she, "you could go to Sunday-school with me, Tessa."
But here Tessa drew back. She had no clothes, she said, fit to go to
church in—only her working-dress and the straw hat which she wore every
day to the mill.
"Go in that. Miss Eunice says God doesn't care what we wear when we go
"But the girls do, and I care more about them."
This rather shocked Katie, but she did not see her way out of the
difficulty, and mentally resolved to "ask mother": that way out of all
difficulties which is first to suggest itself to a young girl's mind.
"There is the sun setting," said Tessa.—"It must be ever so late. I
sha'n't get any supper; they never keep anything for us at our
"Oh, yes, you will! you are coming home with me; mother will have
something ready for both of us. I told her where we were going, and she
promised she would keep our supper for us, no matter how late it was.
Besides, it will be a good chance to ask her about our plan."
So Tessa consented, nothing loth, and when she saw the fair, white
cloth, with the clear glasses and bright, shining china, the delicate
slices of white bread, the wild strawberries, and fresh brown
gingerbread, and contrasted it with the bare table, the stoneware badly
chipped, and the great piles of coarse provisions, into which the
boarders dipped their own knives, she felt as though she had suddenly
got into paradise.
Katie had told the home party about her Italian companion, and her
apparent friendlessness, and all had taken such an interest in her that
when the boys heard their sister ask and receive permission to bring her
home to tea, and their mother's promise to make some soft gingerbread,
they resolved to contribute their share toward the festival, and the
strawberries, to gathering which they had devoted their afternoon
holiday, were the result.
It was a very happy tea-party. Katie was in high spirits, her mother
gentle and hospitable, the boys courteous and gentlemanly. Tessa had
never been in such society before, and yet there was in her a native
grace and refinement—due, perhaps, to the artistic atmosphere in which
she was born—that prevented her from doing anything rude or awkward, or
seeming at all out of place.
After tea the boys brought out the games, and the visitor showed herself
quick to learn and eager to enjoy. The heavy, half-sorrowful look went
out of her face, which became full of fun as her eyes sparkled and
danced, and she pushed back her long black hair.
When the clock struck nine Mrs. Robertson said:—
"It is time for young folks who have to get up early to go to bed. The
boys will see you home, dear; but perhaps you would like to stay and
have prayers with us first."
"Oh, yes, I am sure she would," said Katie, seeing that her friend
seemed not to know how to answer this proposition. So Eric handed his
mother the books, and she first read a chapter in the Bible, and then
kneeling down, with her little flock around her, read an evening prayer,
commending them all to the love and protection of their heavenly Father.
It all seemed very sweet to the visitor, who had never been present at
such a service before. She could not probably have told how she felt,
but a longing desire came over her to stay where everything seemed so
near the gate of heaven, and she said impulsively:—
"Oh, Mrs. Robertson, if you would only keep me always!"
Then Katie said:—
"Mother, why can't Tessa live with us? There's plenty of room for her
with me; and she has nobody belonging to her—nothing but a horrid room
in the factory boarding-house, where nobody cares for her, and she has
to read novels all the evening and all Sunday, and that makes her sick.
It would be so nice to have her go to the mill with me every day, and to
Sunday-school on Sunday—only she hasn't any clothes that are fit,
"My dear, do stop to take your breath," said the astonished mother, "and
let me get some idea of what you are talking about. Do I understand
that you want Tessa to come and live here? I should much like to have
her do so, my child, but you know—don't think me unkind, Tessa—that we
are poor people, and find it hard to fill the four mouths that must be
"Oh, I didn't mean that," said the girl, timidly, and turning crimson.
"Of course, I wouldn't let you and Katie support me; but I could pay you
my board, just as I do at the boarding-house. I suppose it would be
more, but perhaps I could work harder and earn something extra, as some
of the other girls do."
"How much do you pay now?"
"Two dollars and a half a week."
"And you have only three dollars! Katie makes five."
"Yes, I know; she works fast. Perhaps I could if there was any
use—anything to do it for. I didn't need any money. They gave me my
clothes at the workhouse, and I bought books with the other
Both girls looked very beseechingly at Katie's mother, and Eric, who
had taken a great fancy to the dark-haired girl, added his entreaties;
but she said:—
"I can not answer you to-night; I must think about it and pray over it.
I will let you know when I have made up my mind. Now you must go home,
dear; Eric will go with you. Good-night, and God bless you."
Tessa felt the kiss that accompanied these words down to the bottom of
her heart. No one had ever kissed her before, so far as she could
remember, except her father, and she longed most ardently to be taken
into this home.
Katie followed her to the door and whispered: "Tessa, I shall ask God to
make mother decide the way we want her to. You ask him, too. You know it
says in the Bible: 'If any two of you shall agree on earth as touching
any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them.'" But Tessa did
not yet understand about "asking God." She only stared and bid her
The next morning as she sat rather disconsolately on the doorstep of the
boarding-house, not knowing exactly what to do with herself, for in
consequence of last night's visiting she had neglected to provide
herself with a new book, Katie came by and greeted her brightly. She
looked so sweet and fresh in her simple Sunday dress that it was not to
be wondered at that Tessa, in her soiled mill-clothes, again refused to
accompany her friend to Sunday-school.
"You shall have my library book, any way. I don't care to get another
to-day, and mother says you are to come round this afternoon to get her
The book was a pleasant story, and though it lacked the species of
morbid excitement to which the girl had accustomed herself, it filled up
the time agreeably, and gave her a glimpse of a higher, purer plane of
life than any with which she was as yet familiar. Some precious truths
concerning the love of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the happiness of
serving him, were woven into it, and served as the indestructible seeds
which were yet to ripen in the girl's spiritual life. At about four
o'clock she put on her hat, and full of mingled anxiety and hope, made
her way to the corner house which seemed to her so much like heaven.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Robertson had thought the matter over in every
direction. She did not at first like the idea of increasing the home
party, or of introducing into it any element that might prove
discordant. She dreaded to have Katie or the boys come under any
influence that might counteract the earnest, religious training she was
endeavoring to give her children. But there seemed to be nothing
vicious, or even common, about Tessa; she was sweet and well-mannered,
and so friendless and forlorn that it would be a positive charity to
take her in. Then, too, the girl had evidently had no religious teaching
and was profoundly ignorant about spiritual things. Perhaps this was
missionary work sent to her very hands. She might at least try it for a
while. The board to be paid would make it possible to do so, and if the
plan were not a success, or proved hurtful to her own children, to whom
she owed her first duty, she could but send the girl back to her present
So, when Tessa came she was told, to her great joy, that her request
was granted, and she might commence her new life on Monday. A very
serious motherly talk followed, and among other things the new boarder
was obliged to promise never to introduce sensational literature into
Mrs. Robertson agreed to take Tessa for two dollars a week, on condition
that she would assist Katie with the housework before and after
mill-hours. The half-dollar a week thus saved would soon procure a
simple Sunday outfit, and enable her to accompany her friend to
Sunday-school and church.
Katie, with some of the remains of her precious fifty dollars, insisted
on advancing this; and on the first Sunday morning the young Italian,
looking very pretty but rather shy, took her place in Miss Etta's class,
and was at once enrolled among its members.
Mrs. Robertson never had cause to regret her kind-hearted decision.
Tessa was devotedly attached to Katie, and followed, rather than led,
her friend. She was shy with the boys at first, but soon came to show
them the same sisterly feeling that their sister did. Her wit,
quickness, and power of story-telling soon made her a valuable addition
to the family circle, while the genial home influences and good fare so
told upon herself that her extreme delicacy soon disappeared, and she
became capable of as much work or endurance as Katie herself.
German Gretchen was absent from the mill one morning. No one noticed it
except Miss Peters, who marked her down for one less day's wages. The
young girl, who had drifted into the manufacturing town, as so many do,
in search of work, had never been a favorite or attracted particular
attention. She was a fair work-woman, obeyed rules, and went her way to
the boarding-house when night came; but she made no friends either there
or at the mill, and it would scarcely have been noticed had she
disappeared altogether. Somehow she had floated into Sunday-school, and
been placed in the class which afterward became Etta Mountjoy's, but
here her apparent stolidity made her perhaps the least interesting of
all the girls. Perhaps this was in part owing to the fact that one is
not likely to be very talkative in a strange language.
But Gretchen had a heart, although no one in Squantown had yet found,
or cared to find, it. It was safe at home in the fatherland, where the
house-mother and father had as much as they could do to put enough black
bread to support life into the mouths of the five little children, too
young to do as she had done, when she accompanied a neighbor's family,
who were emigrating to seek their fortune in the New World. These
neighbors had gone to the far West, and not caring to be burdened with a
possibly unproductive member of their party, had left the little girl in
the hands of a German employment agency, through which she had found her
way to Squantown Mills.
Gretchen had many homesick hours when she would have given a great deal
more than she possessed to be at home again sharing the poverty and
hardships of the Old World, but she expressed her feelings to no one.
Indeed, she knew no one to whom she could have expressed them. She did
her day's work faithfully, receiving her regular payment of fifty cents,
and occasionally a little more, which little she resolutely put away at
the bottom of her box, to be sent home to her mother and the little
ones when there should be a good opportunity.
But now Gretchen was absent from her work one, two, three, four days. It
was Miss Peters's duty to report all absentees on Saturday night, and
she did so after the hands had been paid off and gone home. The
book-keeper noted the absence in his pages, asked if work was so
pressing as to make the appointment of a substitute necessary or
advisable, and being answered in the negative quite forgot to inform his
employer of the girl's absence.
But when Sunday came, and Gretchen was absent from the place in the
class which she had so regularly occupied, it was a different thing.
Etta, among her other activities, had from the first been a good visitor
of absentees. Indeed, when her scholars lived with their families, as in
the case of Katie and one or two of the other girls, she had made more
visits and laid down the law more than was quite agreeable in all cases.
Now, with her newly awakened sense of responsibility toward the immortal
souls placed under her charge, she had begun to watch over them as one
who must give account of their souls. She had several times thought of
looking up Gretchen, in order to become acquainted with her
surroundings, etc., but had not yet put her design into execution, and
now the girl's absence from the class gave her teacher the very
opportunity she desired.
As soon as tea was over, in the long June twilight, Etta put on her hat,
and walked down the hill upon which the grand house stood to the valley,
in which was the long row of boarding-houses occupied by such of the
mill-hands as had no homes in the place. It was stiflingly hot down
here, though it had been cool and fresh on the high ground above, and
the young lady, who had not often visited the purlieus of the mill, felt
as though she could scarcely breathe, and did not wonder that men sat at
the open windows in their shirtsleeves, and that tired-looking women
seemed gasping for air. The bare wooden buildings, with their long rows
of windows and doors all of the same pattern; the smooth, beaten yards,
all just alike; the swarms of children making it seem anything but
Sunday-like with their noise; the teeming population, which made the
tenements resemble ant-hills, and seemed to forbid any idea of privacy,
looked very dreadful to her.
On the other side of the street was a long row of brick cottages, each
inhabited by two or more families, the distinctive sign of each being
the family pig, kept, for greater convenience, in the front yard, from
which odors, not the most choice in their nature, were constantly wafted
across the way. In the doorways of most of these lounged Irishmen
smoking and swearing, in some cases in a state of intoxication; for,
although the rules of the mill concerning drinking were very strict, and
no habitual drinker was ever knowingly engaged in it, it was impossible
to prevent the men from depositing a part of the earnings received every
Saturday night in the hands of one or two liquor-dealers whom the law
licensed to sell death and ruin to their fellow-men.
How dreadful, thought the young lady, to be compelled to spend one's
life in such wretched surroundings. Is it any wonder that the women
become hopeless slatterns, and that the children grow up in vice and
sin? How thankful I ought to be to the heavenly Father who has
surrounded me with such different influences! how I wish I might do
something to raise and elevate these, and give them a few of the
blessings of which I have so many!
Etta Mountjoy had grown since that early June Sunday when she had
visited her pastor in such sorrow and perplexity. She had read and seen
and thought more and more of the wonderful love of our heavenly Father
in surrounding her with so many blessings and in sending his only Son to
be her Saviour and friend. She looked back upon the life of
self-pleasing she had so long led with sorrow amounting to disgust. How
could she have been so ungrateful? How could she have failed to love One
so altogether lovely? She was learning now to find pleasure in prayer,
and the Bible, which had been to her such a dull book, began to be more
interesting than any story which she had formerly devoured. And she was
trying, faintly and with many relapses, it is true, to take up her
neglected duties, especially those which had been most distasteful to
her, and perform them steadily "as unto the Lord." Out of all this was
springing up in her a desire to do something for Christ—something which
would be, if not a return for his favors, at least a token of her
gratitude to him. To-night just such an opportunity as she had desired
came to her hand.
If Etta had only known it, the dwellings of the operatives at Squantown
were palatial compared to those into which the working-classes are
huddled in cities; for here the many windows opened upon pure fresh air
and green fields, the little yards were scrupulously clean, and vines
clambered up the sides of the doors and windows, even to the roofs. The
fare, plain as it was, was not tainted by exposure in a city market, or
by being hawked about the city streets, and the price of living was no
higher than the wages received in the mill enabled the people to pay.
The young teacher had the number of the house at which her scholar
boarded written down in her class-book, and at that number she at once
knocked. No one came for some time, but at last repeated raps brought
the woman who kept the house, and who might perhaps be excused for her
want of greater promptitude on the ground of having so many dishes to
wash after the boarders' tea.
In answer to Miss Etta's inquiries the woman answered civilly enough,
for it would not do to offend one of "the family," that Gretchen's room
was the back garret; that she believed the girl had been sick for a day
or two, but she had not had time to look after her, though she had sent
her little boy up with her meals. The child couldn't have eaten much,
for the tray came down almost as it went up. She had been trying to find
time to go upstairs all day, and was just meaning to do so now that her
dishes were done. She would go up now, and let the young lady know how
her scholar was.
"Let me go with you," said Etta; but the request was only a form, as the
girl usually did just as she pleased without waiting for anybody's
permission, and, indeed, the woman of the house knew no reason why, on
this occasion, she should not follow her own inclination.
Three flights of stairs were climbed, a long narrow hall, studded with
doors on each side, traversed, and Mrs. Doyle opened one in the
southwest corner of the house, where, the sun having beaten on the
sloping roof all the afternoon, the temperature was something fearful.
The room was small, for Mr. Mountjoy had built the boarding-houses, and
desired to try the experiment of each inmate having a separate room
instead of a great many men or women being herded together in open
dormitories. It contained simply a cot, a wooden chair, and a table upon
which stood conveniences for washing and the untasted supper. On the cot
lay the German girl, blazing with fever and tossing about in the
greatest discomfort. At first she did not know her visitors, and seemed
a little frightened at seeing the room so full. But presently,
recognizing her Sunday-school teacher, she grasped her hand and drew her
down to the side of the bed, pointing to her German Bible, in which she
had been trying to study her Sunday-school lesson.
Etta was touched, and began to think there might be some interest in
even the plain, undemonstrative Gretchen. She bent down to ask her some
questions about her sickness, during which Mrs. Doyle hurried to throw
the one window wide open, and to make the disordered room fit to be
"The child is very ill, I am afraid," said Etta, coming across to the
window and speaking to the woman in very low tones; "don't you think
"Yes, I am afraid she is," said the person addressed, uneasily, for
severe illness in a large, crowded boarding-house is no light matter.
She and her children were dependent upon their boarders, and a sudden
panic might empty the house.
"Can't you send for a doctor, Mrs. Doyle? Papa will gladly pay him, I
"Yes; Johnny could run, I suppose, but he'd be sure to tell somebody,
and I wouldn't like it to get about till we know what it is, any way."
"Please go yourself, then. It's after tea, and there isn't much to do."
"But suppose the girl gets worse, and begins to scream and frightens the
"Oh, I '11 stay with her till you come back. I'd rather; I shall be so
anxious to hear what the doctor says. Please go, Mrs. Doyle, and
Etta Mountjoy had a way with her that could not be resisted by most
people, and even Mrs. Doyle, not overgifted with the milk of human
kindness, could not refuse her. So she went downstairs, and only
stopping to put on her bonnet and tell her eldest daughter to go on with
the preparations for breakfast,—which always had to be made over
night,—as she was going out for a little while, walked swiftly down the
Etta sat on the hard chair by the patient's bed, and for some time
watched the tossing limbs, heavy breathing, and flushed, excited face.
She was not used to sickness. Indeed, she had never seen it since her
mother died, so long ago that she could not remember the pain and the
suffering, but only the terrible results, which were pale, cold death,
the coffin, the funeral, and the grave.
Did all severe sickness end in death, she wondered? Was this strong,
healthy girl about to die? And if so, was she ready? She had never
thought of the possibility of death in connection with any of her
scholars. Had she taught them the things which alone could be of value
to them when they came to stand face to face with a holy God? What
advantage then would be familiarity with dates, with geography, and with
catechisms? How would they then blame her for not having pointed them to
the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world? The
responsibility of undertaking to deal with human souls, upon which she
had so thoughtlessly rushed, now seemed to her something terrible. True,
she had not then known or understood anything about it; but,
nevertheless, it now seemed to her a great sin, and an earnest prayer
for forgiveness rose up from her heart, accompanied by another for the
salvation of the sick girl before her.
Meanwhile the moments rolled slowly by: the sick girl tossed and moaned;
the church-bells rang for evening service, first merrily, as glad to
call the people to the house of God; then slowly, as loth to stop while
any more stragglers might be induced to come; then with one or two long
sobs for those who, in spite of all persuasion and all "long-suffering
patience," wilfully stay outside, stopped, and the silence was only
broken by the shouts of the noisy children below. Even these ceased at
last, and as the sunset glow faded—flame red changing to pale yellow,
and that again to cool, sombre gray—the time of waiting seemed to the
unskilled watcher well-nigh interminable.
Presently Gretchen spoke. Her voice was thick, her accent even more
foreign than usual, and at first the listener could not understand the
words. But she put her ear close down to the bed and made out:—
"Miss Etta, am I going to die?"
"I don't know," said Etta, bewildered; "I hope not."
"I'm not afraid," said the German, "but—but it looks all so strange
and dark. You didn't use to tell us about Jesus, and I couldn't rightly
understand the minister; but don't it say here," putting her hand upon
the Bible by her side, "that he will save everybody that comes to him?"
Her teacher nodded. "Coming to him is asking him, isn't it?" Another
nod. "Then, please, Miss Etta, ask him for me. I can't. I can't seem to
think. Ask him now."
Poor Etta! never in her life had she been so confused. She had only
just learned to pray for herself. She had not yet overcome the reticence
which we all feel concerning our own interest in spiritual things
sufficiently to tell her own sister of her experience and purpose—how
could she bring herself to do this hard thing which her scholar asked of
her? But the scholar had a human soul, and that soul might be very near
to eternity. How could she refuse to do this thing which, by the very
nature of her position toward her, the scholar had a right to ask?
Then an idea struck her, and opening her hymn-book,—for she had
expected to attend the evening service after ascertaining the cause of
her scholar's absence,—she knelt close to the window, and in the
fast-fading light read in a tone of reverent supplication the hymn
"Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou biddest me come to Thee,
Oh, Lamb of God, I come!"
Every word of the hymn was prayer, and Etta felt grateful for this help
in doing what would have otherwise seemed to her impossible. She threw
her whole soul into the last line of each verse, and could not but hope
that Gretchen, who lay quite still now, though saying nothing, was
following and saying in her heart,—
"Oh, Lamb of God, I come!"
After this there was silence and darkness, and Etta continued to kneel
with her face hidden on the window-sill, praying silently that God would
indeed save this soul, teaching it that which heretofore she had been
unable and unworthy to teach. The effort at obedience to what was so
evidently her duty had greatly strengthened the girl; she felt that God
was with her in the still room, and the glad joy of those who against
their own inclinations work for him began to spring up in her soul.
The doctor and Mrs. Doyle found her thus, and springing to her feet,
Etta came over to the bed to hear what the former thought about
Judging from Mrs. Doyle's account, the doctor seemed inclined to make
light of the case, until he had made a careful investigation, and then
he looked very grave, and asked where the patient had come from, and
how long she had been in this country. Hearing that it was nearly a year
since she crossed the ocean, and that she had worked for eight months in
Squantown Paper Mill, he looked still more puzzled, and finally
"I really can't account for it, but it certainly is a case of
ship-fever; a very bad case, too."
Mrs. Doyle's consternation was extreme. She muttered something about
having her children to care for, shut the door tight, and went hastily
downstairs, leaving the doctor and the delicately bred young girl to
decide what was to be done in the situation.
Doctor Bolen looked at his companion in somewhat quizzical perplexity.
Here was a patient dangerously ill with a contagious disorder, at the
top of a house swarming with human beings. She must have care and close
watching, and the only person within reach to give it was a girl whose
gay light-heartedness and instability were well known in the town. Had
she known what to do, she was too young and delicate for such a task.
And should she take the infection—what then? Would the wealthy
mill-owner thus expose his youngest child, and, as every one knew, his
"I must get hold of some responsible person," he said at last, aloud,
but more to himself than to his companion. "But whom? I don't know of a
nurse that would come even from the city. Besides, it would cause a
panic to do so, and a panic is the most likely thing in the world to
cause the infection to spread. Mrs. Doyle, it is clear, is frightened
out of her senses, and she can't be expected to risk her children and
her livelihood for a stranger. One of the Irishwomen across the way
might take care of her for money; but then she'd talk, and the whole
gang would be frightened. I don't really know which way to turn." But
Etta answered instantly with the intuitive perception for which she was
Why had he not thought of it? Eunice Mountjoy, with her calm, cool head,
her perfect unselfishness, her entire devotion to the good of others;
Eunice, who was known and blessed wherever throughout the village there
was sickness, suffering, or want; Eunice, who had many a time helped
him out of a perplexity,—Eunice was the very person. But how should he
get hold of her?
"I will go," said Etta, to whom he expressed the wonder.
"No! You are too young, and at the same time too old, to go through this
manufacturing village alone after dark."
"Then you go, and I will stay here, for I suppose Gretchen must not be
"Of course not. She may become delirious at any moment, and there is no
saying what she may do. She does not know us now. Would not you be
afraid to stay with her?"
"No," said Etta, steadily. "Tell me just what to do and I will do it."
"But you might take the infection. Have you thought of that?"
"God will take care of me," said she, with a rising color; and the
doctor, remembering how he had found her, thought that perhaps he could
not do better than to leave her under such protection.
He was gone a long time, a very long time, it seemed to Etta, whose
patient became very restless and needed constantly to be soothed and
coaxed back to bed when she sprang up and insisted—in German—on going
to her mother. Her teacher, at such times, bathed her face with the warm
water the doctor had brought, or gave her a sip of cold water which had
been left when the tea-tray was carried away, spoke to her in soothing
tones, and finally sang hymns, which seemed to quiet her better than
anything else. She had sung all she knew and was commencing the
répertoire over again, when a heavy step, followed by a lighter one,
came along the passage, and presently Dr. Bolen appeared, followed, not
by Eunice, as her sister had expected, but by Katie's mother, Mrs.
Robertson! There was no time for questionings. The doctor gave Mrs.
Robertson his directions, and then, leaving the patient to her, he took
the young girl's arm and led her from the room, down the stairs, and out
into the street, where the cool night air seemed wonderfully refreshing.
"I would not have exposed you thus," he said, "if there had been any
other way. Do you feel very tired, very much exhausted?"
"Oh, no," she said bravely, for the air had greatly revived her. "I
don't believe it will hurt me a bit. It's time I learned to do something
besides amuse myself, you know. I've never been of much use in the world
yet, but I mean to be."
"You have great capacities and opportunities for usefulness," said he,
gravely, "but you know none of us is sufficient for these things."
"I am asking God to help me," she said in a low tone. "Don't you think
"No one ever sought his help in vain. I am glad you are setting out in
the right way. All success be with you. Now you must attend to my
directions and obey me exactly. As soon as you get home take off every
garment you have on; throw away or burn up everything that can't be
washed, take a warm bath, and go to sleep as soon as you can, and,
remember, you are not to go near my patient again till I give you
permission. Will you promise?"
Then he told her how sensibly Eunice had planned that Mrs. Robertson,
who often went out to nurse the sick, should be engaged to take care of
Gretchen; that to-morrow a certain empty house belonging to Mr.
Mountjoy should be fitted up as a temporary hospital, and the sick girl
moved there that the battle of life and death might be fought where
there were not crowds of people to take the infection. He also cautioned
Etta not to spread a report concerning the nature of Gretchen's disease,
as a panic might result which would be not only deleterious to her
father's business interests, but also disastrous to the lives of
multitudes of the employees of the mill.
By this time they had reached the door of Etta's home, and Dr. Bolen
bade the girl good-night, after reiterating his directions.
Eunice came to her sister's room that night after she was in bed to see
if the doctor's orders had been complied with. She gave her such a
caress as her undemonstrative nature rarely gave way to, and it somehow
opened Etta's heart and mouth as well. A long talk followed, and Eunice
heard a great deal that made her very happy to hear. Etta begged her
pardon for the many times she had refused obedience to one standing
toward her almost in the position of a mother, and promised to be more
docile and helpful for the future. Both felt that the sisterly bond
which had been so weak between them was linked afresh to-night, and that
they were now sisters in reality because they were one in Christ.
The next day Eunice's plan was fully carried out. The vacant house,
which had been for some months without a tenant, was swept out and
furnished with a few necessary articles, and Gretchen, now entirely
delirious, was taken there in a close carriage, and Mrs. Robertson
established as resident nurse. The good woman fretted and grumbled a
good deal at leaving her home and her children,—whom, of course, she
could not see for a long time,—but she was a good woman in spite of
her grumbling. She was a very experienced nurse, and here was service
for the Master from which she dared not turn away. Katie, assisted by
Tessa, was fully competent to manage the house and cook what they and
the boys needed to eat, so she resolutely accepted the trust.
Eunice and Etta went down to the empty house early in the morning, and
both worked hard, with a woman who had been hired to do so, to get the
rooms in readiness, but when all was prepared, they went home, for Dr.
Bolen said there was no use for either to be unnecessarily exposed to
infection. He did not want more patients than were sent him in the
natural course of events.
Great pains were taken to keep the whole matter quiet. Katie and Tessa
and the boys were cautioned not to speak about it, and the removal of
the patient was effected during the forenoon when all the factory
"hands" were safe in the mill. But the precautions were useless. Before
the next night there were four more patients in the temporary hospital,
all from the rag-room, and the consternation was extreme. Many refused
to work, and the mill was in danger of being forced to stop just in the
middle of filling some very important contracts, when the doctor, taking
his own life in his hands, as doctors must, made a thorough
investigation of the rag-room, where all the cases had occurred, and
found the contagion to be in a bale of rags imported from Ireland, which
had not received the usual overhauling before being brought to the mill.
These were all collected and burned, and the room thoroughly fumigated,
the operatives receiving full wages for the days they were thus shut out
from work, and one good result of the fever was that henceforth the
bales were all opened and smoked in a separate building before they ever
entered the mill at all.
The contagion did not spread any farther after this, and the hands
returned without more delay to the mill. Mr. Mountjoy sent to the city
for an experienced hospital nurse, and promised to pay all the expenses
of the illness, in addition to the wages of those who were thus
prevented from earning anything. The "hospital" was supplied from the
kitchen of the "great house," and both Eunice and her young sister found
full occupation in the preparation of dainties and food for the sick.
The interest in the five sick girls was intense, and when one—a poor,
sickly little thing—died, every one felt as though death had come very
close, and many were compelled to listen to the voice which said:—
"Prepare to meet thy God."
GOOD FOR EVIL.
"Bertie Sanderson has not been in the mill for a week," said Tessa to
Katie, as the two friends walked home together one hot afternoon. "One
of the rag-room girls said so. I wonder if she has the fever!"
"That's not likely; the girls are all getting better," said her
"Yes; but she's been absent for more than a week," persisted Tessa.
"Let's go round that way and inquire."
But Katie, somehow, shrank from this. While she knew nothing with
absolute certainty, she could not help feeling that Bertie was in some
way connected with the general avoidance of herself by the girls of the
Sunday-school class, and the evident suspicion with which both Miss
Eunice and Miss Etta regarded her. What her former companion could have
said or done, she had no idea; but the sense of an undefined something
had made her of late keep as far as possible from Bertie. She was about
to say with her usual impulsiveness:—
"No; I hate Bertie! Don't let's go near her," when she remembered all
her purposes of doing Tessa good and setting her a Christian example. Is
it Christian to cherish a dislike of another because one has reason to
suppose that other has done one an injury? Katie's enlightened
conscience knew it was not. It was not like him who said:—
"Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which
despitefully use you and persecute you;" and who, by acting in strict
accordance with his own teachings, "left us an example that we should
follow in his steps."
For a few moments the little girl said nothing as she walked silently by
the side of her companion; then, having during those silent moments sent
up an earnest prayer that the hateful feelings might be taken away from
her heart, that so she might become more like Christ, she answered by
turning her steps in the other direction.
The two girls found, as Tessa had suggested, that Bertie had indeed
taken the fever, and was very ill in her own comfortable home. Dr. Bolen
had suggested her being removed to the temporary hospital, and being
cared for by the competent nurses there; but her mother would not hear
of it. She was always a very foolish woman, had been very much opposed
to her daughter's going into the mill, and now told her husband that
this fever was all the result of his obstinacy, and she hoped he enjoyed
having murdered his own child. Now, however, she meant to have her own
way. Her Bertie, who was every bit as good as the city young ladies, her
cousins, was not to go to an empty house and be nursed with a lot of
common mill-girls. If her mother couldn't take care of her, she should
like to know who could—which would have been unanswerable if Mrs.
Sanderson had known how to nurse anybody—a thing of which she was
profoundly ignorant. So poor Bertie had a hard time of it, and daily
grew worse instead of better; and as if this were not enough, Mrs.
Sanderson never thought of isolating the patient, or of keeping the
other children from her, and before long the third child, a boy of six
years old, was taken down with the fever also, and the incompetent
mother had her hands more than full with the care of her house, the two
patients, and two fretful, badly trained little children, with only
Nina, who had never been taught to do anything in the world, to help
Matters were in this state on the evening when the girls called, and
poor Mrs. Sanderson, coming to the door, without an atom of prudence or
caution, insisted on dragging in Katie at least, because in her wild
delirium Bertie had been incessantly shouting her name. Katie was
impulsive, not very old or experienced, and had, moreover, been always
taught to obey grown people, so without a thought of possible danger to
herself, she followed the woman into the house, while Tessa waited for
her outside, and was soon standing by the bedside of her old
She would never have known Bertie Sanderson. The long, disorderly hair,
as well as the disfiguring "bangs," had, by the doctor's orders, all
been shaved off; the round, rosy cheeks were pallid and sunken; the
solid frame was wasted almost to a skeleton, and there was a fierce,
wild look in the eyes alternated with an expression of intense fear.
Katie stood aghast, and even as she looked the wasted lips suddenly
"Katie, Katie Robertson! Send her here. I want to tell her something."
"I am here," said Katie, as soothingly as she could, for her fright.
But Bertie took no sort of notice of her; evidently did not recognize
her at all, and went on:—
"It wasn't a lie! I did see her find it and put it in her pocket. That's
being a thief, isn't it? It was money—a great deal of money. I saw a
five and a nought. It wasn't a lie, I tell you! She did steal it!
Katie's a thief, for all she's so saintly."
Katie started. This, then, was the mystery; this was the secret thing
that had been setting so many against her. She had never in all her
speculations concerning the general avoidance thought of this as a
cause. Bertie must have seen her find that fifty-dollar bill and put it
in her pocket. But even if, from mere idleness, she had repeated the
story to her companions, had she told simply what she really saw, could
it be called stealing? And if Miss Eunice or Miss Etta had heard it they
would naturally have spoken of it to their brother; he would have told
the facts as he knew them, and that would have made matters all
Bertie must have altered her tale in some way, exaggerated it, or
suppressed a part. What for? Could her companion be so malicious as
simply to desire to make her unpopular and to prevent the young ladies
from looking upon her with approbation? She could not understand it. Of
course she could not, for malice and jealousy were entirely foreign to
Katie's nature, even if she had not been striving "in all her ways to
acknowledge" her Saviour. She did wish, however, that she had thought of
mentioning her good fortune and Mr. James's kindness at the time, that
all this trouble might have been avoided.
Meanwhile Bertie began to moan and cry and call for Katie; and the
latter, after speaking in vain again and again, turned to go.
"Oh, don't go away!" said Mrs. Sanderson, imperatively. "She'll know
you by-and-by; and I can't stand her calling for you; besides, if you
can just stay with Bertie and give her the medicine and drink, I might
get a chance to see to Alf., who is most as bad as she is, and see what
Nina's doing with those children; they've been screaming this half-hour.
I don't believe she's given 'em a mite of dinner, and I guess there
ain't anything in the house for supper. You just stay where you are."
Not a thought had selfish Mrs. Sanderson for the fact that she was
exposing a neighbor's child to the same evil which had overtaken her
own. Nor in Katie's inexperience did she think of it either; but she did
feel very indignant at the tone of command and very much inclined to
Moreover, she did not want to stay and take care of a girl who had
behaved so shamefully toward herself. One by one the bitter things she
had been forced to endure through this girl's treachery and
deceitfulness came to her remembrance—the avoidance of her companions,
the disapprobation and suspicion of the overseer, the changed manner of
her Sunday-school teacher, the tears she had shed in secret, and the
discouragement she had felt in her efforts to be good; and a sense of
indignation possessed her which for a moment made her feel almost glad
that the girl had thus got her deserts.
But this feeling was not of long continuance. The Good Spirit, who was
leading Katie along the paths of righteousness, would not allow her to
turn aside from them because for the moment the way seemed unpleasant
and opposed to her natural inclinations. Unheard by outward ears, but
heard quite plainly in her heart, he whispered words that made the
little girl pause and think a second time before she refused to do as
she was commanded. Here was a good opportunity of being like Christ. He
forgave his enemies. He was kind to the unthankful and the evil. He gave
up his life that those who hated and persecuted and finally killed Him
might be saved. This thought decided her.
"Let me speak a word to Tessa first," she said; "then I'll stay."
She then told her waiting companion how ill Bertie was, and how Mrs.
Sanderson was overwhelmed with so many to see to, and wanted her to
stay and help. She asked Tessa to get tea for the boys and send one of
them for her at bedtime, all of which her friend promised faithfully to
attend to, and went her way.
When Katie returned to the sick-room, Mrs. Sanderson actually thanked
her, and then went off, glad to attend to other responsibilities, and
the young nurse was left with the excited, tossing patient. Strangely to
herself, she did not feel the least anger or bitterness toward her now,
in spite of all her unkindness to herself. The words which had been in a
recent Sunday-school lesson, "I was sick and ye visited me," came
again and again to her mind, and it hardly seemed to be Bertie to whom
she was called to minister. She had no experience in sickness, but to
some people nursing is an intuitive gift, and Katie inherited it from
her mother. Her touch was cool and light. She seemed to know by instinct
when the patient needed drink or change of position. She smoothed the
disordered bed, shook up the pillows, turned the cool side uppermost,
closed the open blind through which the western sun was blazing into
the sick girl's eyes, and finding a large newspaper lying on the floor,
made a fan of it, keeping off the flies and creating a current of air,
till by degrees the tossings and cries ceased, the wildly staring eyes
closed, and Bertie fell into a light, though restless, sleep.
Meanwhile, Mr. Sanderson had come home from the bindery, and seemed
surprised to find Katie sitting so quietly by his sick child. He
remonstrated with his wife—in another room—for exposing a stranger to
such danger of infection; but when she asked him what she was to do with
two sick children and three well ones on her hands, and who was to get
the meals for them all, he had no answer to give, only he set about
making the fire and getting supper himself, holding the baby on one arm
and telling Nina what to do about setting the table. When all was ready
he sent Katie down to her supper and himself watched the two sick
children,—which, now that one of them slept, was quite
possible,—resuming his watch after he had had his own. Mrs. Sanderson
declared that she was completely "beat out," as well she might be, poor
woman, and dropping on the lounge in the sitting-room was asleep in a
moment, while Katie coaxed Nina to help her wash the dishes, clear up
the room, and put the two younger children to bed.
By this time Dr. Bolen came in, looked at his patients, and said that,
though Bertie was certainly not better, sleep was the best thing for her
and should be encouraged as much as possible. Alf., he thought, would do
well. Then seeing Katie and not recognizing her, he asked where that
other girl came from and what she was doing there. Mrs. Sanderson
explained, dwelling emphatically upon Bertie's cries for her friend and
the soothing influence her presence had exerted.
"That's all very well," said the doctor; "but how am I going to excuse
it to her mother if she gets the fever, and what am I going to do with
another patient upon my hands and no one to nurse her?"
"Oh, well, there's no harm done. She's only been here a little while,
and her brother's coming to take her home before long."
"Not quite so fast, my good lady. She has been exposed to the fever
already, and if she goes home now, may communicate it to her two
brothers or the other girl that boards with them. Then her mother would
be sure to go home to take care of them, and there would be an end of my
hospital and my quarantine. No; she must either go to her mother and
take her chance there, or she must stay here till we see whether she has
escaped the contagion."
"Please, let me stay here," said Katie, who had overheard this
conversation. "I don't think I shall have the fever, but I am sure I can
be of use to them all."
"Wouldn't you like to go and be with your mother?"
"Yes, sir, I'd like to, but I'd rather stay here; because, because
they need me, and"—the rest of the sentence was spoken low as if
without being intended for any one to hear, but both the doctor and Mr.
Sanderson heard it and marveled at the words. They were:—
"Even Christ pleased not himself."
Mr Sanderson would not allow Katie to sit up late. Indeed, she could not
have kept awake, and would have been of little use if she could. She
shared Nina's bed in the room where the younger children slept, but lay
awake thinking, long after that irresponsible little girl was asleep by
her side. Everything seemed so strange. It was the first night she had
ever spent away from her own home, and she could not help wondering how
Tessa and the boys were getting along, and what they had for supper. She
thought of her mother and of the anxiety which, when she heard where she
was, she would feel about her; and she wondered if she should have the
fever, and if she did if she should die, as one of the patients at the
hospital had already done. Then she wondered if Bertie would die, and a
strange sort of awe came over her at such a thought in connection with
one who had been her playmate ever since she could remember. It made
death seem very near, and she wondered if she were fit to die. But that
thought did not trouble her much. Nothing, either in life or death, can
really hurt those who love Jesus and trust in his protection. She asked
him to make her ready to die when he chose, and then, being of a very
hopeful, cheerful nature, began to think of other things.
How could Bertie have circulated those stories about her? And, what was
more important, how could she set herself right in the eyes of the other
girls, and especially in those of Miss Eunice and Miss Etta? She could
not go and say to the latter: "I know Bertie called me a thief, but I am
not one," and then tell the story just as it was. They might not believe
her, and if they did it would be betraying Bertie, and that would not be
kind, particularly now that the latter was so ill. Or if she could have
told the young ladies and, with the help of Mr. James, made it all
straight with them, she could not go around to all the girls and explain
what to them were half-defined suspicions. Even if she told the story
of the fifty-dollar bill and her version of it were believed, they might
very naturally think that there was something else, and that Bertie
would scarcely have based her charge of theft on so slight and easily to
be explained a circumstance as that. What should she do? It was dreadful
to live under such a cloud; to have people consider you wicked when you
are desiring and trying with all your might to be good, and not be able
to right yourself at all. Again a feeling toward Bertie arose in the
girl's heart that would have been hatred but for her companion's present
condition, and which she felt to be wrong even as it was. For the
thought of Jesus and how he forgave his enemies made her feel ashamed of
herself, till she got out of bed and, kneeling down in the moonlight,
prayed to be made more like him and to be willing to suffer wrongfully,
if need be, with patience, rather than to feel wrong or to do anything
unkind. And then, as she got into bed again, the scripture words with
which she had commenced her factory life came back to her with new
"In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." And
then those others in the thirty-seventh Psalm: "Commit thy way unto the
Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass. He shall bring
forth thy righteousness as the light."
That was the safest way. She might leave it to God to take care of her
reputation. He could manage it though she could not, and some time
everybody would understand just how it was, and know she was not a
thief. Meantime she could afford to wait his time.
The next morning Mr. Sanderson promised to send word to the mill about
Katie's absence and its cause, and when he left for the bindery his wife
came downstairs to see to things, and she took her place in the
sick-room, while Nina went to sit with Alf. Mrs. Sanderson was surprised
to see how much Katie had managed to do before breakfast and in the
interim between, exciting in Nina quite an ambition to wash dishes and
"clean up." The little children had been nicely washed and dressed and
were, when their mother went down, sitting on the kitchen doorstep with
a kitten between them, over which, for a wonder, they were neither
fretting nor quarreling. The breakfast things were all put away, the
floor swept, and there was a general look of comfort which had not
existed in that house for more than a week. The poor tired woman sank
into a rocking-chair, saying to herself, "I don't see how it is some
people's children are so handy. Mine don't ever do anything they can
help. It's some people's luck." It never came into Mrs. Sanderson's head
that the "luck" of good, efficient children is largely dependent upon
the sensible training given them by their mothers.
The doctor, when he came, found Bertie much easier, if not absolutely
better. He could not tell quite yet if there were any likelihood of her
recovery, but the quieter she could be kept, and the more sleep she
could get, the more chance she would have. He told Katie she was a
famous nurse, and he should trust her to keep the room still, dark, and
cool, and to soothe her friend as much as she possibly could. He
furthermore told her that he had seen her mother, who approved of her
remaining where she was, though of course she was very anxious lest she
should take the fever and very sorry that she had gone to the house in
the first place.
"I promised to watch you closely," said he, "and the moment I saw any
symptoms, take you to her to be nursed. But I don't believe you will
have it if you take care of yourself. You are in the path of duty, and I
have often observed that those who are there seldom come to any harm."
It seemed a very long day to restless, active Katie, and yet in one
sense it was a relief from the steady, monotonous work in the mill.
Bertie was so quiet at first that she was able to wait upon her and
Alf. both, and let Nina go down to help her mother get dinner. But after
a while she began to toss and mutter, and then came those wild cries for
Katie Robertson; that she had something to tell her; that she hadn't
told a lie, for Katie was a thief.
When or how the change came the watcher hardly knew, but all at once she
became aware that Bertie lay looking directly at her, and that there was
full recognition in her eyes. Neither girl spoke for a moment; then
Bertie said with a kind of shudder:—
"Am I dead?"
"No, indeed," said the other, not without some effort to speak
cheerfully. "You are going to get well now; only keep still and don't
"I am going to die," said Bertie, slowly; "and I can't die, I am so
wicked. Katie, I said dreadful things about you. I made all the girls
hate you, and Miss Etta, too; but it wasn't quite a lie, for I did see
you take the money."
"Yes," said Katie, quietly, "I did find a fifty-dollar bill in an old
vest, and I suppose you saw me; but why didn't you tell me you saw it,
instead of telling the girls? Then I could have explained all about it?"
"I don't know," said Bertie, uneasily. "Yes, I do; that's another lie,
and I don't mean to tell lies now, I didn't want to have it explained.
I wanted the girls to dislike you as much as I did."
"Why?" said Katie, astonished.
"Oh, well, you preached to me, and pretended to be a saint, and Miss
Etta and everybody thought you were so good, and"—
"Shall I tell you about that bill now?"
So Katie told her companion just how it happened, and it was all so
simple that she wondered how she could have made such a story of it.
"I wonder you didn't keep the bill, and not take it to Mr. James," she
said. "I should."
"I did have a little fight about it," said Katie, blushing. "It was a
great temptation. I'm not so very good, but"—
"But what?" said Bertie, eagerly, looking at her.
"I think the Lord Jesus helped me. I asked him, and he says he will help
us to be good."
"Do you think he would help me?"
"I am sure he would. O Bertie, do ask him! I am so glad!"
"Are you?" said the sick girl, dreamily. But the effort to talk or think
longer in her weakened state was too great. She seemed to float away
again, and by degrees the same wild look came into her eyes, the
tossings began again, and the low mutterings and sharp cries. It was
very painful both to see and hear, but Katie was glad to notice that her
own name no longer mingled in the confused talk, and the consciousness
of wrong-doing toward herself seemed to have passed away.
In the evening the doctor said that the patient had had a relapse, and
questioned her young nurse very particularly as to whether she had shown
any consciousness; and being told that she had seemed for a little while
to be quite herself, he asked if she had spoken. Katie said that she had
talked quite rationally about something that had distressed her for some
time, but she did not say what that something was.
"Bad," said he; "you should never let a fever patient talk, no matter
how much she may try. But I mustn't scold you, I suppose; you are too
young for such a responsibility, and your friend there is extremely
Then he went downstairs and consulted Bertie's parents, and the result
was that a letter was written to the city aunt begging her to come and
help take care of the two sick children. The doctor wrote it himself,
stating as delicately as he could the extreme urgency of the case, the
inefficiency of the mother, the dangerous illness of the children, and
the impossibility of securing any assistance in the care of them except
that of an inexperienced little girl, who was herself in constant danger
of being added to the list of patients.
In answer to this appeal, after a couple of days, Mrs. Jamieson, who, if
a silly, overindulgent mother, was a much more efficient woman than her
sister, made her appearance in Squantown, and under her supervision
matters were soon in a better condition, and Katie was no longer needed.
She had made herself extremely useful, however, and all the family were
unfeignedly obliged to her. The children could not bear to have her go,
and Mr. Sanderson insisted upon giving her as much money as she would
have earned during the days she had been absent from the mill. Dr. Bolen
said she showed no signs of having taken the infection and it would be
quite safe for her to go home if she would change all her clothes for
those which Eric took to the bindery and Mr. Sanderson carried home,
leaving everything she had worn in the sick-room behind her, and then
would take a long walk, where the wind could blow her hair about and
freshen her up thoroughly.
Tessa and Katie had a long, long talk that night. The former had many
things to tell of what had happened both in the mill and at home during
the absence of the latter; how the rag-room had been closed and
fumigated, the foreign rags all burned, and the girls and Miss Peters
enjoyed a three days' holiday without having it deducted from their
wages; how the old cat had presented the household with a lovely family
of downy kittens, for which Alfred had made a little house in a box out
in the yard; and how both boys had been very patient toward her cookery,
laughing at her mistakes and helping her with their superior knowledge;
and how they had stayed at home and played games with her every evening,
thus preventing her from taking to novels again to cheer her loneliness,
as she should otherwise have felt tempted to do.
Then Katie told Tessa all about the fifty-dollar bill, of which she had
never heard before and Bertie's unkindness in setting everybody against
her; and Tessa said she had heard the rumors, and often tried to make
the girls tell her what they meant, but the only thing she could find
out was that Katie was dishonest.
"I wonder you were friends with me, then," said Katie. "I should think
you would have avoided me, just as all the other girls did. Weren't you
ashamed to associate with a thief?"
"Oh, Katie, you know I couldn't believe such a thing of you!—you who
have been my best friend—the only real friend I have ever had."
"But why didn't you tell me what you had heard, and ask me to explain
it? You see how easily I could have done so."
"Somehow I didn't like to. It seemed like doubting you even to repeat
the lies. I knew they were lies all the time, and I loved you better
than anybody else in the world. What consequence was it to me what other
people said about you?"
How to clear the matter up, neither of the girls knew. For it would be
still more cruel and dishonorable, as they thought, to tell what Bertie
had done, now that she had confessed it herself and was lying so low.
But Katie had learned to "commit her way unto the Lord," and she was not
troubled any more about the matter.
"I should think you'd hate Bertie," said Tessa, with Italian intensity.
"I don't see how you could bring yourself to stay there and take care of
her when you knew how much she had injured you. I should have felt like
putting poison into her drink or smothering her with the pillows."
"No, you wouldn't," said the other, laughing, but immediately becoming
grave again. "You couldn't hate any one who was dying, and besides, it
wouldn't be like Jesus."
"I don't understand."
"Don't you see? Jesus gave up his life for sinners, for those who were
his enemies. It makes me love him whenever I think of it, and I want to
be like him. This was a good chance, and I think he helped me to
overcome all kind of hard feeling. I only longed to do everything I
could to make her more comfortable."
"I wish I could love Jesus as you do. My father used to tell me
religion was just the priests deceiving silly women, and reminded me how
the robbers and beggars in Italy would kneel before the crucifixes, shed
tears as they said their prayers, and then turn away and be just as
wicked as before. But to you it all seems real, and it, or something,
makes you just the best girl I ever saw. But I can't feel so."
"Yes, you can; our Lord Jesus says 'whosoever will, may take of the
water of life freely,' and 'him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise
cast out.' You must be one of the 'whosoever.' O Tessa, I only wish
But Tessa did not answer, and Katie, thinking her asleep, soon followed
It was about four weeks later in the season. Miss Eunice's "tea-party,"
which had not been held for a long time, was gathered at the great
house; not now in the pleasant sitting-room, but on the still pleasanter
shaded lawn, where the girls occupied pretty rustic seats, while the tea
was spread on little green tables, around which they were grouped as
inclination prompted them.
All the members of both classes were there, with the exception of Bertie
Sanderson; and there were quite a number of new faces. Some were present
who had lately stood very close to death, and others whom the solemn
thought induced by the public catastrophe had led to seek for a better
life than one of mere amusement. All were glad to come together again;
but there was a subdued tone in the gladness, and some voices were not
as gay and careless as they were a month ago.
The fever had passed away. There had been no more cases, and only that
one death. The rag-room girls and the invalids had gone back to their
work; the hospital was closed; Mrs. Robertson had returned to her
family, with for once a thankful heart. For, besides that she had been
very well paid for her services and loss of time, the pestilence had
spared her own dear ones; and they were all there to welcome her as she
came back to her home.
Moreover, she had become very much attached to Gretchen and the other
girls whom she had attended during their illness, and hated to let them
go back to the tender mercies of Mrs. Doyle and the other boarding-house
keepers, where they would be sure to be not only uncomfortable and badly
fed, but also very much neglected in case of any new illness which might
easily result from their weak, enfeebled condition. Her motherly heart
thought a great deal about the matter, and her thoughts finally ended in
her fitting up a large garret-room, which had never been occupied, with
four little white beds and other necessaries and conveniences, and
taking the four convalescents home with her as permanent boarders. The
girls, while paying no more than they had heretofore done, profited
greatly by the change. They had plain and wholesome, because
well-cooked, food, plenty of cleanliness and fresh air, besides the
elevating and refining influence of a home where Christian living was
inculcated, not so much by precept as by practice. God "setteth the
solitary in families," not boarding-houses or institutions; but that is
the only true family which takes care "in all its ways to acknowledge
him." If such families all over our land would open the arms of their
exclusiveness each to take in one or more of the waifs and strays of
life, and throw around them the arms of Christian love, they would be
taking a long step toward answering their own daily prayer of
"Thy kingdom come … on earth as it is in heaven."
Katie and Tessa were pleased, girl-like, with the addition to their
family party, and, though the boys grumbled a little at first, being, as
boys are apt to be, a little shy of girls' society, they soon became
used to the change and glad to enjoy the evening occupations that were
rendered possible by so large a number.
It had always been a source of great anxiety to the widow, lest her
boys, deprived of a father's watchful authority, would, as they grew up,
wander off at night, fall under bad influences, learn evil habits, and
grow up worthless, dissipated men. But thus far she had been successful
in keeping Eric and Alfred at home with her and their little sister, and
now, just when the restlessness common to their age might have drawn
them away, a new interest was presented in the shape of a "home reading
society," which held its sessions on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday
nights; Wednesday evening being devoted to Miss Eunice's "tea-party,"
Friday to the church service, and Saturday to games.
Mrs. Robertson had plans of a more solid nature for the winter, but till
the warm summer weather was over, this seemed enough. The books read
were historical stories, biographies, and the like, taken from the mill
library by special permission. The boys were generally the readers,
while the girls were encouraged by their motherly landlady to repair and
keep their clothes in order, a branch of womanliness apt to be much
neglected by factory operatives, who often marry and enter upon family
duties without even knowing how to hold a needle.
Of course, the widow's time was now so fully occupied that she could not
go out to work in families, as she had been wont to do, but the money
paid by her boarders more than compensated for that. Her heart, as well
as her hands, was quite full, and having no time to brood over her
fallen condition, she did not worry and grumble so much as formerly, and
was happier than she had ever been since the doctor died and left her to
battle with the world alone. And thus she learned to realize the truth
of that scripture:—
"He that watereth shall be watered also himself."
Bertie Sanderson did not die with the fever, though all around her, even
the doctor, had at one time quite given up all hope of her recovery. She
slowly struggled back to life, and as soon as she was able to bear the
journey her aunt took her to the city with her for more complete rest
and change. Katie did not see her again; for, having once got away from
the infected house, it was not thought best either for her brothers at
home, or her companions in the mill, that she should risk exposure
again. She often longed to know the state of her former companion's mind
on recovering her senses. If she remembered that exciting conversation;
if she were really penitent for what she had done; and if she had taken
her companion's advice and sought the forgiveness and strength of her
Saviour. But no one could tell her. Indeed, there was no one she could
ask, for she felt intuitively that Mrs. Sanderson was not a person to
understand this sort of thing, and she could not summon courage to ask
Bertie's father. Of one thing she was sure, however—her companion had
not as yet openly confessed her share in the reports which had so
affected Katie's reputation, and she must still wait in patience till he
to whom she had "committed her way" should make it clear.
The reading for this Wednesday afternoon had been exceedingly solemn. It
was about the danger of being "almost persuaded" to do one's duty, and
then leaving it undone; the uncertainty of another opportunity
presenting itself, and the importance of deciding for Christ now. At
its close Miss Eunice had said:—
"My dear girls, we have in the weeks that have gone by carefully
considered the subject of religion and God's claims upon every one of us
for the consecration to him of our hearts and our lives. We have seen
that the steps we are called upon to take are repentance, that is,
forsaking sin in intention as well as being sorry for it; a steadfast,
living faith in Christ Jesus as our Saviour, and a resolute
determination to spend the rest of our lives in his service by keeping
his commandments and doing his will.
"We have learned, also, that of ourselves we are none of us sufficient
for any of these things, but that God is ready—nay, anxious—to give us
his Holy Spirit in answer to our asking, and that this Holy Spirit will
work in us the repentance and faith, as well as give us the strength to
carry it out amid all the temptations of our daily lives. To-day's
lesson has been upon the importance of deciding, and the danger of
delay, in such a serious matter. I think the lessons of the past few
weeks have helped to impress this latter fact upon us; and I am glad
that our pastor has just written me a note to ask that all of you who
have made up your minds to confess your Saviour openly at our communion
Sunday, the first week in September, which will be just two weeks from
to-day, will send him your names at once. He desires to see and talk
with each one of you separately, that he may satisfy himself of your
being in a fit condition for so important a step. I have a paper here on
which you may write your names; but before you do I want you to examine
your own hearts faithfully and as in the sight of God, to see whether
you honestly and sincerely 'repent you of your sins past, have a lively
and steadfast faith in Christ our Saviour, and intend to lead a new
life, following the commandments of God and walking from henceforth in
his holy ways, that so you may not be guilty of making a deceitful and
false profession.' And now let us pray."
The girls all knelt down, and their teacher prayed that these dear girls
might have a right judgment in all things, and decide, "not lightly nor
after the manner of dissemblers with God," to confess Christ for their
Saviour, and give themselves to him in the way of his appointment. Then
there was silence for many minutes, that all kneeling there might
carefully examine their own hearts and make this most important decision
of their lives in the very realized presence of God himself.
After this the tea-table conversation was not a very gay one, and the
girls went home uncommonly early, many of them before leaving writing
their names upon the sheet of paper which their teacher presented. To
some it seemed too awful a thing to do; to others, as to Katie
Robertson, the awe was softened by the glad sense that Christ was
pleased with this act of acknowledging him; and still others were
greatly strengthened by this first act of self-committal, from which
they would now be ashamed to draw back.
"Fifteen names; God bless them all!" said Miss Eunice, as she looked
over the paper with her sister, whose own name headed the list. "I am so
glad! And yet there are two or three more that I would like to see
there; perhaps they will decide yet. But, Etta, what shall we do with
this one?"—pointing to Katie Robertson's.
"I don't know, unless we consult Mr. Morven." For the young lady had
begun to realize the help and strength there is in talking over
spiritual matters and difficulties with one well qualified to give
advice and help; and many a deeply interesting one had followed that
first Sunday afternoon's conversation between Etta and her pastor.
"We might do that," said the elder sister, musingly. "And yet, I hardly
like to, either; for, you see, we don't know anything definitely against
the child, and I should be sorry to create a prejudice against her
should she prove to be innocent. At the same time, I do not like to take
the responsibility of assenting to the public religious profession of a
girl who has such an accusation as theft hanging over her."
"I have almost a mind to tell her the report, and ask her what it means.
I have somehow shrunk from doing so because it seems an absolute insult,
and whenever I see the child I can not believe there is any truth in the
story. I wish I knew more particulars."
"Who was your informant? Oh, I remember!—Bertie Sanderson—and she is
out of the way now, and can't be questioned."
"I never believed in, nor liked, Bertie; but I don't think she is bad
enough to invent such a slander, making it out of whole cloth. She said
Gretchen knew; but I never thought of asking her. She is as truthful as
"I would ask her," said her sister. "And there she is by the gate—come
back for something, maybe."
Gretchen came slowly up the lawn, and stood for a moment shyly by the
side of Miss Eunice.
"Is there anything I can do for you, my child?" said the young lady,
pleasantly, desiring to put her at her ease.
"Please, will you write my name there?" she said, pointing to the list.
"I can't write English letters, and I was ashamed to have the other
"That is nothing to be ashamed of," said Etta. "I don't believe any of
the other girls can write German letters. But, Gretchen, do you honestly
want to give yourself to your Saviour, and to live so as to serve and
"Yes, Miss Etta. I shall never forget the night you prayed for me when I
was so sick. You said the Lord Jesus would hear the prayer, and take me
if I came to him. I think he did so, and I have been coming to him
again and again, ever since. He has been good, so good to me, saving me
from dying and making me get well from that terrible sickness. The more
I read about him in my Bible, the more I love him and want to honor him.
But, Miss Etta, it was you who told me about him, and I shall never
forget that night."
Etta's eyes filled with glad tears, while her sister added the sixteenth
name to the list, and she clasped the hard, red hand with a feeling of
sisterhood, for which she could hardly account.
Gretchen's sickness had greatly improved her appearance, toning down her
overbright color, and giving her a look of greater delicacy. Mrs.
Robertson and Katie had managed to exchange the dark woolen petticoat
and jacket for a simple summer dress such as the other girls wore; while
contact with the others in the friendly home life had brightened up her
intellect, and her new, deeper feelings and desire after a spiritual
life had given her a certain earnestness of expression which made the
homely German features very pleasant to look upon.
She was just going away after thanking both her teachers in a quaint,
formal manner, when Etta said:—
"Gretchen, I don't want you to tell tales about your companions, and you
need not answer unless you wish to do so, but I have been told that you
know facts concerning a rumor about Katie Robertson, that I very much
desire to find out. Can you, honorably, tell me anything about it?"
"Some of the girls don't like her; I don't know why. She's always a very
nice girl to me, and so good to her mother!"
"But the rumor is that she is dishonest, and that you saw her steal
"I saw Katie steal?" said Gretchen, very slowly. "Never, never in my
life. Oh, I know," a light breaking over her face at a sudden
recollection. "Bertha and I both saw her find a bill in an old
vest-pocket one day, and put it in her own. Bertha spoke about it to me,
but it wasn't my business. Finding isn't stealing."
"It isn't quite honest to keep what we find," said Miss Eunice. "We
should try to restore it to the owner."
"But how could she find the owner?" said Gretchen, eagerly. "He might
be away over in Germany, or—or anywhere."
"That is true," said Etta, thoughtfully. "It's strange! I can't believe
that Katie's dishonest."
"Oh, she isn't; I'm sure she isn't! I only wish I could prove it; but
this is all I know about the matter."
"Well, dear, thank you for saying what you have said. Don't say a word
about it among your companions. I know I can trust you that far, and I
will find out the mystery somehow. Good-night, Gretchen. God bless you
in your new service," and Miss Eunice kissed her, little German
factory-girl though she was.
"Find out the mystery? Of course we can; just as easy as possible, now,"
said Etta. "All we've got to do is just to ask James if such an
occurrence ever happened in the mill."
And Mr. James Mountjoy promptly coming in at that moment, both sisters
appealed to him, and heard in return a very simple statement of the
"Why didn't you tell us?"
"I did mean to. I thought it so noble in the child. Five girls out of
every six would have put the money into their pockets, and said nothing
about it. It was very brave in her, too, to tell me how she had been
tempted to keep it."
"I know why he did not tell," said the elder sister, looking fondly at
her brother. "Five employers out of six would have accepted the money as
their right, and the finder have been none the better for it. Our James
is not apt to trumpet his own praises."
The young man colored, and said:—
"I think Katie Robertson is an uncommonly fine girl. I was struck by
something she said the day she entered the mill. I asked her if she
thought she could be a faithful little girl, and she said she was trying
to please God everywhere, and she was sure he would help her here. I
think she has acted up to that idea ever since. I have watched her from
time to time, and I can not find that she has ever been guilty of
disobedience to rules, or any kind of underhand behavior. Her work has
always been faithfully done, and her example has been of great use in
keeping order among the others. Sanderson is enthusiastic in his praises
of her bravery and womanly unselfishness. He says she came to his house
at the risk of her own life, and helped his poor, tired-out wife take
care of the two sick children with as much earnestness, and almost as
much skill, as a professional nurse. She stayed there till the aunt from
the city came, thus losing five days' work. I offered her the wages for
those days when I found it out, but she told me Mr. Sanderson had given
her the amount, and she did not want to be paid twice over."
"And this is the girl we have been suspecting of dishonesty!" said Etta.
"We really owe her something to make amends. What a little wretch that
Bertie Sanderson must be! I really think her parents ought to be told
all the circumstances."
All this while a pile of unopened letters, brought by the evening mail,
was lying upon the centre-table. The young gentleman turned them over,
took possession of several which were directed to himself, and then,
handing Etta one which he said was for her, left the room.
"Who can it be from?" said the young lady, eyeing the strangely folded
and badly directed epistle, without opening it, as is the manner of so
"I'd see if I were you," said her sister; and seeing that this was good
advice, Etta took it, glanced at the signature, and exclaimed:—
"Bertie Sanderson! what a coincidence!"
The letter was as follows:—
NEW YORK, August 15, 18—.
My Dear Miss Etta,—I don't know how to write letters very
well, but I must tell you something that is upon my mind. It is
about Katie Robertson. You remember I told you she was a thief,
and I told all the girls she was dishonest. I didn't know
that she was; I only saw her find a fifty-dollar bill among the
rags one day, and put it in her pocket. I didn't know what she did
with it, and I didn't try to find out, because I was jealous and
hated her. She used to tell me it was dishonest to break rules,
and talk, and idle, when one was paid for working, and I felt kind
of glad to think I had found her out in being dishonest too. I
told the girls about it—not all, but just enough to make them
think her a thief, because at first they all seemed to think so
much more of her than they did of me, and I told you just the same
thing when you asked me. I tried to tell father when he used to
praise up Katie Robertson's independence and industry, and wish I
would follow her example. You see, it was all because of her that
he put me in the mill. But somehow I couldn't tell him. I was
You see, Miss Etta, I have been a very wicked girl, and when I got
so sick I was afraid to die. I tried to think I hadn't told a lie,
because I did see her find the money, and I didn't
know what she had done with it; but I knew I had "borne false
witness," and I hadn't "loved my neighbor as myself." I knew, too,
that nobody could go to heaven with a heart full of malice and
hatred, and I wanted to tell Katie all about it, and ask her to
forgive me, and when I got wild I kept calling for her. Then she
came and stayed and took such good care of me, I've been ashamed
since I knew about it; but I didn't know her or any one then, only
one day my wits seemed to come back to me and I told her all about
it, and she explained so simply how she had found the money and
taken it to Mr. James, and Mr. James had told her to keep it, that
I saw in a moment that it was only because I wanted to think her
bad that I didn't find out just how it was long before.
I felt so bad then, Miss Etta, because I thought I was surely
dying, and going before God with all that unforgiven sin upon me,
and Katie talked so sweetly about Jesus and his forgiveness and
help that I thought I'd like to try. But then I didn't know
anything for a long time till I woke up and found my aunt there,
and they said I couldn't see Katie again, because she might get
the fever or carry it to her brothers.
I was dreadfully unhappy, even after I came here, not only about
this, but because of all the other bad things I've done all my
life. I've been selfish and vain, and unkind and untruthful and
dishonest, and I almost wished I had died when I was sick, only
then I could not have gone to heaven, and I never could have
Since I have been here I have been to church a good deal with my
cousins, who are Congregationalists, and are both going to join
the church. There is a daily service, and there have been a large
number of conversions. I have talked a good deal with my aunt, and
I really do want to commence over again and be a good girl. Aunt
Anna says that Jesus died so that the very worst sinners might be
forgiven, and I think he will forgive me. She wants me to stay and
be received with her daughters here, but I'd rather join the dear
church in Squantown, with the other girls, if you think I might.
But I want Katie and all the girls to know just how bad I have
been and just how sorry I am. Please tell them all that I have
said, and write and tell me if you think I might join the church,
when I've been so wicked.
Give my best love to Miss Eunice and ask her to forgive me, too.
Your affectionate Sunday scholar,
"I think we may join in the joy of the angels in the presence of God
over the one sinner that repenteth," said Miss Eunice, as her sister
finished this long and evidently earnest letter. "I think you may safely
write to the dear child to come home and commence her new life among us.
Your class is greatly blessed, my sister, and I think when we remember
what it has done for Gretchen and Bertie, we may well thank God for the
ship-fever as for an angel in disguise."
The next Sunday Etta Mountjoy detained her class a few moments after the
school session, and read to them the whole of Bertie's letter.
It was received with various expressions of surprise, which were greatly
augmented when the whole story of the fifty-dollar bill was told.
"I have brought this all before you, girls," she said, "not to make you
think hardly of Bertie. She has suffered too much and is too evidently
sincerely sorry for me to do that. I want you to rejoice with me in her
repentance, and when she comes back, to receive her with full
forgiveness and sympathy, and aid her in her efforts to lead a new life.
I thought you ought to know how well one little girl among us has
behaved under the most unjust suspicions and great unkindness. Not one
of us has understood Katie Robertson. She has known for four weeks, from
Bertie's statement to her, what was the real reason of our avoidance and
suspicion, and she has never opened her mouth to explain the true state
of the case and clear herself, as she might easily have done, because by
so doing she would have been obliged to tell of the unkindness and
malice of her companion.
"I think we all ought to ask her pardon for being so ready to condemn
her unheard and to believe what was whispered against her; and, more
than that, we ought to be very thankful to the Lord for giving her such
a grand victory over herself."
Katie blushed and could find nothing to say, as one after another the
girls and their teacher shook hands with her and kissed her; but it was
a very happy heart the little girl carried home with her that bright
"Tessa," she said, "it's all true, every word:
"'Commit thy way unto the Lord,
And He shall bring it to pass.'"
The first Sunday in September was the most beautiful day of the
season—calm, still, and sunshiny. The August heats were abated, but no
touch of chill had yet come into the air. It was still summer, but
summer's fierceness had passed by. When the bell of the little gray
stone church rang out in joyous tones, multitudes of people, in bright
Sunday attire, and with expectant faces, came out of the cottages and
boarding-houses and, singly or in groups, wound their way up the hill.
Factory operatives are not, as a rule, a very church-going population,
and the church was not wont to be overcrowded; but to-day the pews and
seats are all full, and so are the extra benches and chairs taken from
the Sunday-school room and placed in the aisles. Every one in Squantown
who possesses a sufficiently decent wardrobe in which to appear in a
place of worship has turned out to-day. For to-day many of the boys and
girls are to stand forth with many of their older friends, and confess
themselves upon the Lord's side, while their pastor prays that upon them
may fall a fuller measure of that Good Spirit, who alone can enable them
to stand firm amid the many temptations by which they are surrounded,
and while their brethren, who are older in the faith, promise to give
them all the sympathy and help which it is in their power to bestow.
The church has been decorated for the occasion with a wealth of late
summer flowers. Geraniums, scarlet, coral, pink, and white, dahlias of
every variegated hue, asters, zinnias, heliotrope, ferns, golden-rod,
and a multitude more are entwined around the pulpit or wreathed above
windows and doors. Pure white day-lilies load the air with perfume, and
rare exotics from the gardens of the "great house" stand in exquisitely
arranged baskets upon the communion-table.
The music, intended to do special honor to the occasion, is somewhat
elaborate, considering that the choir is composed of the older boys and
girls from the Sunday-school, and is therefore not so good as usual from
an artistic point of view; but it is better than artistic in that it is
intended to do honor to the occasion, and is in many instances the
sincere thank-offering of hearts glad to give to their Saviour the "dew
of their youth."
It was the endeavor, not only of the clergyman, but also of the whole
Mountjoy family, to banish all class distinctions from the church, and
to make rich and poor, as they sat together before God, "the maker of
them all," feel that they were all one family; that all had a common
ownership of, and interest in, the beautiful building and the
Thus the factory-girls went to the woods on Saturday afternoon for
golden-rod and ferns; the humblest families robbed their cottage gardens
of the few bright flowers they contained; and the boys gave willing
assistance to Etta and her class in arranging and putting up the
decorations. The whole congregation joined in singing the hymns and such
of the chants as were familiar, and rarely had the singing been
The service was over and the sermon, and then, as the last hymn was
sung, the call was given for the candidates to come forward in answer to
the reading of their names. How many of them there were! Even those who
had prayed most earnestly and labored most actively were surprised at
the result. There were six of the elder girls composing Miss Eunice's
Bible-class (the others were already communicants); four of her
brother's boys; Etta and her whole class of seven,—making eighteen from
the Sunday-school. But there were also quite a number of young men who
worked in the factory, who had been largely won by James Mountjoy's
honor and integrity, added to manly Christianity; and some young women,
and even elder ones, with one or two heads of families, who had been led
by the indefatigable efforts of the pastor thus to openly acknowledge
The girls were not as a rule dressed in any particular manner. Etta,
indeed, and one or two others, were in white, because it happened to be
more convenient and suitable, but neither Mr. Morven nor Miss Eunice
wished to have the consciousness of dress interfere with the solemn
thoughts of self-dedication and renunciation of the world appropriate to
the occasion. Even with Bertie Sanderson, who had come home a few days
before, "old things had so passed away," that she wore a simple blue
gingham, much plainer, and at the same time much more becoming, than the
costume in which she had originally appeared at the mill. The solemn
questions were asked and answered; the personal vows taken; earnest,
solemn prayers uttered and words of wise counsel said, to be long
remembered and heeded and acted upon in life's coming battles; and then,
with a burst of joyful song, the solemn service was over, and those
engaged in it went out from the sacred precincts to fulfil the vows and
exercise the grace among the common scenes and homely details of daily
life. To many, nay, to most, life would not be one continuous communion
service; the holy awe would of necessity fade away; the hymns and
prayers be exchanged for the harsh wrangle and barter of a work-day
world; temptation was awaiting many of those new church members in
unexpected places, and the evil nature within, not yet wholly subdued by
divine grace, would make the pathway of holiness a very narrow one,
along which untrained feet would often stumble. But the memory of this
hour would always be, to those who cherished it, a shield against
temptation, a counter-charm against the wiles of the evil one; and since
the Saviour whom they had that day openly avouched to be their Lord and
God had promised "never to leave or to forsake them," only victory could
follow those who confided entirely in him.
"Tessa," said Katie, when the two girls were alone together that
afternoon, "I didn't know you were going to join the church till this
morning. Why didn't you tell me before?"
"Well, you see I didn't make up my mind till yesterday afternoon. Then I
went to Miss Etta, and she took me to Mr. Morven, and he took my name
and encouraged me to come."
"What made you think of it?"
"You first. I didn't see how you could be so gentle and patient when
everybody was condemning you and thinking evil of you. Then I watched
you at your work, and saw how faithful you were, whether any one saw you
or not, just as if you felt that God was looking at you, and you wanted
to please him."
"So I did. I took for my text, in the mill, the verse: 'In all thy ways
"Then," continued Tessa, "when you wanted me to give up reading those
novels I was real mad at first. I thought you had no right to find fault
with what I did, and that it was very mean in you, who had a comfortable
home and a mother and two brothers, to want to take away the only
pleasure from me who had nothing. But when you talked with me so
sweetly, and when you asked me to come and live with you, and your
mother took in the stranger that no one knew anything about and treated
me just like one of her own children, I knew that you did it just out of
kindness, and I tried to see what made you so kind."
"I don't think I'm kind," said Katie, "but I do want to be."
"The only reason I went to Sunday-school and church with you,"
continued her friend, "was to find out what it was that made you so
different from the other girls, and there I heard all about Jesus, so
different from what the priests used to say at home. There were no
crucifixes, no pictures in the church, as there were in Italy, and yet
he seemed to be more real than he ever did there, and I found myself
beginning to love him almost before I knew it."
"I'm so glad!"
"So am I; but I don't think I ever quite saw what he was, how he laid
down his life, for his enemies I mean, till you went to take care of
Bertie, at the risk of your own life, and stayed there when you knew how
badly she had treated you, and never said a word afterward for fear it
would hurt her. It showed me just how he cares for all of us and wants
to help us, even those who don't like him and don't want to take his
help, and I made up my mind to give myself to him and take him for my
Saviour that very night when you asked me to."
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"Somehow I couldn't. I couldn't talk about such things; they seemed too
sacred. And one reason I didn't give in my name with the others that day
at Miss Etta's was because I was afraid Miss Eunice or somebody, the
minister, perhaps, would ask me questions."
"Didn't you want to talk to the minister?"
"No; it seemed like going to confession, and that I promised my father
I'd never do. Besides, I didn't think I was good enough."
"Why, we're none of us good enough, Miss Eunice says."
"I know; I listened to all the readings and the talk and the lectures,
and by-and-by I got to see things that I hadn't understood before, and
how it is not because we are good and strong, but because we're sinful
and weak, that we need a Saviour and all the influences of the church.
And so, just at the very last moment, I prayed for bravery enough to
tell Miss Etta, and she went with me to Mr. Morven, and he told me I was
just the one to come, if I really loved the Lord Jesus ever so little
and wanted to do his will. He was just as kind and gentle, and it wasn't
a bit like confession, for he didn't ask me any string of questions and
didn't say the absolution—just talked to us both, prayed, and sent us
home. I'm so glad I decided. I never felt so happy in my life before."
"Nor I," said Katie. "It doesn't seem as if anything ever could be hard
or hateful again."
So felt a good many young hearts that quiet Sunday night as they
returned from the evening service, where the pastor preached a special
sermon to those of his flock who had just openly enlisted in the army of
the Cross, welcoming them once more into the "communion of saints,"
pointing out the responsibilities they had assumed and the difficulties
in their way, but at the same time congratulating them on the assured
strength and aid which were promised to make them "more than conquerors
through him who hath loved us."
And as life glided by, bringing its inevitable portion of care and
suffering to each, no one of that band was ever sorry, as he looked back
to the services of that bright September Sunday, that young hands and
young hearts had then been laid trustingly into the hands of their
Saviour, and that they set out upon life's journey clad in the
invincible armor of faith.
The soft, sweet summer-time had quite passed away. Bright autumn had
followed, with its glory of gorgeous leaves and piles of golden fruit.
November's fierce blast had begun to toss the leafless branches, and
Thanksgiving day was at hand.
Nearly three months had passed since our young friends had stood forth
to receive the seal of their discipleship. Three months of testing time
they had proved to be—months in which the true attitude of the souls of
those who had then presented their bodies as a living sacrifice might
become plain both to themselves and their friends.
No greater mistake can be made than for young people to suppose that the
recommendation of their Sunday-school teachers, their pastor, or even
their parents, is an assurance that they are really fit subjects for a
confession of Christ. All these, it is true, are watching them, both in
their actions and in the tempers which they thus exhibit, as those that
must give an account for their souls; but only God can see the
heart—only themselves can know whether they are sincere in their
purpose to love and serve him.
Young girls are very easily influenced. Often they come forward in the
church because a good many of their companions are coming and they do
not want to be left behind; sometimes because it makes them of temporary
importance; and sometimes simply because of the transient excitement,
without any thought of the solemn vows they are going to assume and the
new life which in the future they are to be expected to lead. And this
in spite of all the instructions given and the watchful care exercised
by pastor and friends. No wonder, then, that the first few months after
a public profession are anxious ones to all those who have had any part
in smoothing the way thereto for their young friends.
And yet, let no girl or boy be discouraged from taking a stand which is
both duty and privilege by these remarks. All that God demands of those
who confess Christ—or, as it is popularly incorrectly called, "make a
profession of religion"—is sincerity of heart and purpose; sincere
sorrow, no matter how slight, for past sin; sincere faith in the
sacrifice of Christ, to atone for and forgive sin; sincere purpose of
obeying God's commandments for the future, with sincere consciousness
of weakness added to sincere trust in the all-sufficient strength of
the Holy Ghost. Every boy or girl old enough to think is capable of this
sincerity; and thus every one is bound to obey the express command of
his Saviour and confess him before men.
But, of course, if the confession be not sincere, in a very short time,
when the novelty and excitement have worn away, the interest in sacred
things will wear away also, and very soon something will be said or done
that will be a dreadful disgrace to the confession thus carelessly or
Still another mistake is often made by young people, and this is one
calculated to do great mischief, as it is often made by those who are
sincerely desirous of serving God. For weeks preceding the open step
they have devoted a great deal of time to meetings, prayer, and
Bible-reading, and their interest in these things has almost put secular
ones out of their heads. But when that long-anticipated day is over,
they feel somehow that the end is reached, instead of looking on this
end as only the first step in a newer and better life. Other duties and
interests resume their relative importance. There are not so many
meetings to go to, Bible-reading becomes more hurried, prayers are less
fervent, and all at once the young communicant falls into some open sin
and is filled with grief and remorse.
Oh, if every boy and girl, every man and woman, who has been brought
into outward and inward communion with Christ, would only realize that
he or she is to go onward, never ceasing to pray and strive against
evil; ever pressing on for more and more of the Holy Spirit; striving
each day to be more and more like Christ,—then would be realized what
is meant by the words of the wise king: "The path of the just is as the
shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day."
"Don't you think it would be nice to have a Harvest Home Festival for
the Sunday-school on Thanksgiving?" said Etta Mountjoy to her brother
and sister one autumn afternoon.
"I never saw one," said Eunice, whose duties as housekeeper had kept her
rather closely confined at home for some years.
"Oh, I have. When I was at Altona last fall, the church was decorated
with grain and grasses and fruits, and even vegetables. It was just
"I should think it might be," said James; "and I don't see why we should
not have one if Mr. Morven has no objection. But it will be a good deal
of work to carry it through successfully, and I hate that sort of thing
when it's a failure."
"I don't mind work," said Etta. "I want something to do—something for
the church, I mean; and the girls do, too—something to take the place
of our readings and talks. Sometimes I wish it were not all over, but
there were something still to look forward to."
"Do you mean that you are sorry that you are really admitted to the
communion of the Church, and have openly placed yourself on the Lord's
"No! Of course not," said the girl, blushing. "But things are getting
flat. I want something new; you know I always did."
"Yes," said her brother; "we all know, Etta. But, seriously, I trust my
little sister will never be tired of the blessed service and fellowship
into which she has been so recently admitted. You know what is written
about those who put their hands to the plow and look back."
"Oh, I don't mean to look back; I don't want to. I'd rather belong to
the church and work for Christ than anything else in the world. What I
want is work. Don't you see?"
"Well, dear, if you think you can manage the work I'll find the money,
though I don't suppose it will cost a great deal."
So it came to pass that those bright autumn Saturday afternoons were
spent by Etta and her girls in the woods, where, with the aid of such
boys as could get away from their work, a store of scarlet, golden, and
variegated autumn leaves was laid in, with late ferns and hardy
brackens, curious bits of moss, seed-vessels, and dried grass being
added to the store. These were all taken to Mrs. Robertson's, whose
large garret was offered for their reception and preservation, and after
tea the girls ironed and varnished the leaves which could not be
detached from the boughs, and pressed the smaller ones between the
leaves of newspapers, which were collected for the purpose from
neighbors, the younger Sunday scholars who were not in the mill being
Then, on Wednesday evening, at Miss Eunice's "tea-party," which of
necessity was held indoors, now that darkness came early and the nights
were chill, the girls of the two classes covered pasteboard stars,
crosses, crowns, and monograms with leaves and mosses neatly stitched
on—bound rich yellow wheat stalks into sheaves, and made plumes and
tassels of dried grasses and seeds.
Merry chatter helped the work forward. Miss Eunice did not wish her
girls to look upon religion and the church's service as a thing of
gloom. She knew that God has "given us all things richly to enjoy," and
that the way to hallow pleasure and prevent its being hurtful is "in
all our ways to acknowledge him."
Moreover, these social, familiar talks, when every one was off her
guard, afforded capital opportunities of studying character with a view
to affording to the young pilgrims such aid and advice as might be
useful to them in their heavenward journey.
Of all the young work-women, Tessa showed the most taste and ingenuity
in the grouping of leaves and arranging of ferns, and her beautiful
combinations constantly called forth the admiration of both companions
and teachers. The little Italian received their commendations very
meekly, but did not thereby escape exciting the jealousy of Bertie
Sanderson, who, on putting together some very fiery leaves without any
attempt at toning down, received from Miss Eunice a few gentle
suggestions concerning shadow, high lights, etc. "It's too mean," she
whispered to her nearest neighbor, as she took her seat, "that beggar
from the poor-house gets more notice than all the rest of us put
Her companion stared, for she was one of those girls who had almost
made up her mind to become a Christian, but had remained undecided till
too late, because she had an idea that a person could not dare to join
the church till she was as holy as an angel.
"There's Katie Robertson, too," continued Bertie; "she'll be sure to be
praised, if her work's hideous. That's what it is to be a favorite."
"Why, Bertie," said the other, "you're real spiteful. I think Katie's
just the nicest girl. Anyway, I couldn't talk as you do if I had joined
"But you ought to have joined the church because it was your duty," said
Bertie, who could very clearly see the mote in her sister's eye, in
spite of the beam in her own. "You will be a Christian soon, won't you?
It's so nice."
"Not I. If religion don't make people better than you are, I don't want
anything to do with it; I'd rather stay as I am," was the sincere, if
not very polite, answer. And then Bertie's conscience awoke, and she
began to see what harm she was doing. She was very uneasy all the rest
of the evening, and still more so when, at its close, Miss Eunice asked
her to stop a few moments, as she had something to say to her.
Miss Eunice had overheard the conversation we have recorded, and had
noted the cross, spiteful expression of the girl's face, and had grieved
much as she saw her Saviour thus "wounded in the house of his friends."
She spoke seriously to Bertie so soon as they were alone, and found the
latter already repentant and quite willing to acknowledge her fault.
"But what am I to do, Miss Eunice? I am jealous, and I do feel
hateful sometimes. I don't want to feel so, but I can't help it. If I
didn't speak, I should feel it all the same."
"But, my dear, you have promised, in the most solemn way, to renounce
'the devil and all his works.' Pride, malice, envy, jealousy are
emphatically works of the devil."
"I know, Miss Eunice; and I thought it would be all taken away. The
minister in the city told us that Jesus is 'the Lamb of God, who taketh
away the sins of the world.' I thought if I came to him he would take
"So he has, so he will. Try to understand me. When he hung upon the
cross he bore the penalty due to the sins of the whole world, and of
course to yours. In that sense he has already taken them away. But in
another sense, that of your daily life, your character, he will take
the evil of that away just as fast as you will let him."
"Let him? How do you mean? I am sure I want to be good."
"Yes, in a lump, altogether, you want to be good, very good; but without
any trouble or self-denial. You didn't want to keep from saying those
spiteful things about Tessa and Katie a little while ago, or he would
have helped you do it. You didn't want the jealous, envious feelings
taken out of your heart just then, or he would have taken them."
"How, Miss Eunice?"
"Whatsoever you ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive," said
"But do you mean I ought to have kneeled down to pray then, just that
moment, before all the girls?"
"It is not necessary always to kneel down when we pray; though it is
best to do so when we can. There are often times when our work would
suffer, or when we are so surrounded by others that it would be
impossible. But a few earnest words spoken in the silence of our own
hearts will always bring our strong, loving Saviour to our help; and we
may, every time, no matter what our temptations are, be 'more than
conquerors through him who hath loved us.'"
"Every time? Oh, Miss Eunice!"
"Yes, every time. You know we constantly ask the Lord 'to keep us each
day without sin.' How can we utter such a prayer in faith if we don't
believe that it can be granted?"
"Yes; but temptations are so sudden, and take you just where you're the
"I know. And therefore we should be fully armed beforehand. Bertie, did
you read your Bible and pray this morning?"
"No!" said the girl, flushing. "I always mean to; but it's so dark in
the mornings now, and mill-time comes so soon. It's just as much as I
can do to get there in time, any way."
"Yet you find time for your breakfast?"
"I couldn't live without eating."
"Nor can you live spiritually without feeding daily upon Christ, through
the study of his Word and prayer. I would sooner go without my breakfast
than without my early communion with him. Bertie, there are 'no gains
without pains.' If you are really desirous, as I believe you are, to
overcome your own evil habits and tendencies, and grow to be like
Christ, you must begin every day with prayer for his help; you must
watch yourself and your surroundings, and in the moment of temptation
you must turn instantly to him who says that he is 'a very present help
in trouble,' and who has promised to 'supply all our need according to
his riches in glory.'"
Poor Bertie! A hard fight was before her. Fourteen years of unresisted
pride, jealousy, and ill-will had formed habits that were hard to
break—fourteen years of caring for no one's pleasure but her own. In
brief, fourteen years of worshiping herself had helped to form a
character which would need a good deal of chiseling before it should
grow into an image of Christ. But he had undertaken the work. Miss
Eunice had shown her how to avail herself of his offered help, and as
she took her teacher's advice, we may be sure that in the end she gained
So the short, bright autumn days and the long, chill evenings passed
quickly and pleasantly away. All were busy and happy, and were beginning
to find that in spite of conflicts and self-denials "wisdom's ways are
pleasantness and all her paths are peace." The preparations for the
Thanksgiving festival progressed rapidly, but before the time came to
put the plans in execution a very terrible thing happened in Squantown.
Faces turned white, voices were hushed, work was suspended at the mill,
in the stores, and even upon farms. One home, where a loving mother
bowed in deepest agony, was shrouded in gloom, while others were filled
with the sympathy of mourning.
The Mountjoys first heard the news at Sunday-school, where Etta found
her class so full of the horror that they could attend to nothing else.
The stories of the girls were confused, and differed as to details, but
their teacher elicited from them the facts, which were as follows:—
Harry Pemberton, one of the best hands in the mill, one of the
pleasantest young fellows in Squantown, so the grown-up girls thought,
the very idol of the widowed mother who had only him, had gone out with
some companions on a Saturday night "spree" to a high cliff in the
neighborhood. They carried with them a barrel of beer and some bottles
of whiskey, of which, however, the others drank but little. A foolish
bet was made between him and one of the elder men, as to which could
drink the most "lager," and the others, soon tiring of the contest, left
the two with the bet still undecided. The sequel was involved in
mystery, for the other man, who was a stranger in the place, had
disappeared, and when the bright autumn sun shone out on Sunday morning,
it showed to the early passers-by the dead body of poor Harry, bruised,
broken, and disfigured, at the foot of the cliff. Whether the beer they
had taken made him and his companion quarrelsome and he was pushed over
in a fight, or whether Harry, stupefied, fell asleep on the edge and
rolled over in his unconsciousness, was never known. The boon companion
never came back to testify, and the coroner's jury brought in a verdict
of "accidentally killed."
On Wednesday the mills were closed, that all might have an opportunity
of attending the funeral services, which were intensely solemn and
impressive. Harry had at one time been a member of Mr. James's
Bible-class, and during the recent religious interest his former teacher
and employer had more than once urged upon him to break away from the
evil companions and bad influences by which he had allowed himself to be
surrounded, and take his stand on the Lord's side, finding in the church
and its associations help to become a noble and good man. At one time he
had seemed to be almost persuaded, and his friend had great hopes of
him, but his companions and their influence had proved to be too strong.
He had gone back to his evil ways, trusting, perhaps, to "a more
convenient season," which, alas! never came to him.
The clergyman detailed these facts to his hearers, among whom were, of
course, all the young men of the place; and while delicately avoiding
hazarding any suggestions as to the present or future condition of their
unfortunate companion, pressed upon all present the importance of
calling upon the Lord "while he may be found," and the awful risk of
"No one could have supposed," said Mr. Morven, "when poor Harry trifled
with the most important of all questions, his soul's salvation, and put
off his final decision till some 'more convenient season,' that that
season would never come to him."
Of all the young men of Squantown he had seemed the least likely to be
suddenly called into eternity. Yet he had been, in a condition, too, in
which any one would least like to be found when called suddenly to stand
before God and answer for the deeds done in the body. Who would be
called next? Was that one all ready? Therefore, he once more urged upon
his hearers, "Prepare to meet thy God." Nor did the earnest pastor fail
to draw attention to the lessons concerning the use of intoxicating
liquors, in any form or degree, which the occasion so plainly afforded.
It was not as an habitual drunkard that Harry Pemberton met his fate,
nor was it from the use of what is usually denominated "strong drink."
Lager beer, considered and spoken of by many as "a temperance beverage,"
was responsible for the mischief, and the thoughtless joke of careless
young men had hurried one of them, known to all present as a boy of
great promise, uncalled into the immediate presence of God. Perhaps a
better object-lesson for total abstinence could not have been found,
since it is the occasional drinkers, who are not as yet bound by the
chains of almost irresistible habit, to whom alone such an appeal can be
made with any prospect of success. Poor Harry had been precisely one of
these, and probably no young man in Squantown had considered himself
farther from meeting death as the result of intemperance.
This sad and sudden death made a great impression upon James Mountjoy.
Always a perfectly temperate man, as became an earnest, devoted young
Christian, he had never been known as a temperance man, that is, an
advocate of total abstinence principles, and an active worker in the
cause. But he now was deeply impressed with his responsibility and duty
in this respect; and accustomed to turning good impressions at once to
their legitimate results,—good actions,—he, with his father's full
consent, called a meeting of all the men connected with the mill, that
night, and presented to them a total-abstinence pledge, which he was the
first man to sign.
"I have always," said he, "been opposed to such pledges. I thought a
Christian communicant might be trusted to use all these things in
moderation, and that it was, somehow, an undervaluing of his church
privileges, to say nothing of his manhood, to bind himself by anything
else. I will confess, also, to having occasionally enjoyed a glass of
wine or champagne. But I have completely changed my mind. Who knows what
might happen to me, in some unguarded moment, if I should continue to
tamper with that which is in its very nature a deceiver? But, even
supposing I were to escape all evil consequences, some one weaker or
less favored than I am might be influenced by my example to take that
which would injure him in body or soul. St. Paul said he would 'eat no
more meat and drink no more wine while the world standeth,' if it should
cause his brother to offend, so I have resolved that not another drop of
anything that can intoxicate shall ever pass my lips, and if it will be
any help for any of you to make or keep to a similar resolution, I will
be the first to 'sign away my liberty,' as pledge-signing is foolishly
called." And he wrote James Mountjoy in clear letters at the head of
A great cheer greeted the action, and many men and boys pressed forward
to follow their young employer's example. Elderly men they were, some of
them, who had tried again and again to break off a habit which they felt
to be injuring them and defrauding their families, and who found a great
moral support in being thus associated with others, one of whom stood in
such relation to themselves. Others were young men who greatly admired
and emulated Mr. James, and who had heretofore justified themselves in
acquiring a taste for whiskey on the ground that the young gentleman
was known occasionally to indulge in ale and champagne. And still others
were boys, who liked to do what their elders did, by way of appearing
manly, and whose adherence, given to the right side of the question,
before they had had an opportunity of acquiring a taste for intoxicants,
was a great gain on the side of righteousness.
Eric and Alfred were among these latter, and though neither had as yet
spent an evening away from home, nor, to her knowledge, knew the taste
of liquor, their mother, when she was told of it, gave hearty thanks
that another safeguard against evil had been thrown around her boys.
Some of the men declined to sign the pledge, one saying in a surly
manner that he was not going to be coerced into doing a thing of this
kind. Mr. Mountjoy paid for his work, not his principles, and he should
eat and drink just what he liked. To him James replied, pleasantly, that
he did not wish to coerce any one. Those who were conscientiously
opposed to signing a pledge would, of course, not be expected to do so,
but he had no doubt he should have the unanimous support of all present
in whatever efforts might be made to put down the growing evils of
James Mountjoy never did anything by halves. He at once threw himself
earnestly into the temperance reform; supplied himself with books and
papers, and became thoroughly conversant with all phases of the
question, wondering, as he did so, how as a Christian man he could so
long have overlooked his duty in this matter. Resolved to do so no
longer, he at once commenced a series of temperance meetings, inviting
speakers and lecturers to come to Squantown and make the people
intelligent total abstainers. He did not select so much men who were
noted for their fervid oratory, nor yet reformed drunkards who often
divert their audiences with amusing accounts of their past performances
while under the influence of strong drink, but plain, common-sense
business men, who put before their hearers in simple terms the evils
that the manufacture, sale, and consumption of alcohol work to the
purses, bodies, and souls of any community.
He also added to the library at the factory reading-room a number of
valuable works on the nature and effects of alcohol; and before the
winter was over had the pleasure of seeing a very marked change in the
condition of the factory people as the result of his efforts.
[Footnote 2: An actual occurrence.]
THE DO GOOD SOCIETY.
Meanwhile the girls at Miss Eunice's tea-party had been busily
discussing the funeral and its sad cause.
"What an awful thing intemperance is!" said one of the elder girls.
"Even women sometimes drink to excess; and how many others suffer from
its effects in their husbands and fathers. I wish we girls could do
something to put it down."
"You can," said Etta. "If every girl in the land were to set her foot
down against having anything to do with young men who drink, there would
soon be a change. I am resolved," she said, in her old impetuous way,
"never to associate with any young man, no matter how good or elegant he
may be, who even tastes wine occasionally."
"That is a rash resolve, Etta," said her sister, "and one that I fear
you will find it hard to carry out. Yet, what you say is right, in the
main. Girls do not enough realize the great responsibility of their
influence over young men."
"No," said Agnes Burchard, with a sigh. And several remembered how much
she had been seen with poor Harry and what jokes had been made about
their intimacy. "I always knew that Harry Pemberton drank occasionally;
but I thought it manly, and like—like Mr. James."
No one answered this rather unfortunate remark; but presently Katie
"Don't you think, Miss Etta, people ought to begin with the boys—before
they have learned to drink, I mean."
"A good suggestion, Katie, since an ounce of prevention is said to be
better than a pound of cure. How would you set about doing it?"
But Katie, having thus drawn all eyes upon herself, blushed, and did not
feel like speaking. So Miss Eunice came to her rescue:—
"We might organize some kind of a society, of which the boys and younger
girls could be members. It would be some trouble to keep it up, but it
would be directly in the line of that service to which you pledged
yourselves, girls, that bright first Sunday in September."
"Delightful!" said Etta, to whom every new thing always seemed so. "A
boys' and girls' temperance society, with a pledge that they shall never
in their lives taste anything that can intoxicate. Then they will grow
up temperance boys and girls from the start."
"There are two objections to pledging children—that is, very young
ones," said Eunice. "The first is, from the unwillingness often felt by
their parents; and the other, that many of them do not fully understand
what they are about, and as they grow older often break their pledge, on
the ground that they are not bound by a promise made when they were too
young to understand it."
"Well, some of them keep it, and that's so much gained."
"Yes; for them. But to break solemnly made vows is always an injury to
one's character. Besides, if we make a total-abstinence pledge the
condition of joining our society, we shall not get the Irish boys, who
most need our work. Their parents will not let them come. Why not word
our pledge in such a way as to secure everybody's influence on the side
of temperance, without making it a personal thing? It will be sure to
react upon the individual."
"I think there are some things that boys do besides drinking that are
just as bad—smoking and swearing, for instance," said one of the girls.
"And I think it's just as bad for girls to be hateful and unkind," said
Bertie, to the surprise of some who knew her, but did not know what a
brave fight she was making to overcome her long-indulged faults.
"Let's make it a pledge to be kind and thoughtful," said one of the
"Not to be vain," said another.
"And let's all belong," said a third. "So the boys won't think we're
just preaching to them."
So the result of all the talk was that a meeting for all the children in
the place was held the first bright Saturday afternoon, Etta presiding,
assisted by such of her girls as had finished their day's work at the
mill. It happened to be a bright afternoon, warm for the season, and no
one felt any inconvenience in staying out of doors, where they sat in
groups around the lawn, while their young hostess explained the purpose
for which she had called them together.
"We know you all want to be good men and women," she said; "brave,
noble, and helpful. Our idea is not primarily to amuse you or make you
happy, but to help you to learn to be helpful and useful to others. We
want to form among ourselves a society, whose object is to do all the
good that its members possibly can—not trying to have a good time, but
to make somebody else happier and better every day. Who wants to join
Instantly every hand in the little group went up.
"Yes, I thought so," said the young lady. "But now I wonder who are
willing to take a good deal of trouble about it, and really put
themselves out of the way to make other people happy. Those who are
willing and mean to persevere not getting tired and giving up the whole
thing after a little while, may have the privilege of joining our
society by signing their names to our pledge."
She then read the following pledge slowly, pausing to explain every word
which might seem hard to be understood by the younger children:—
"We, the undersigned, pledge ourselves to be truthful, unselfish,
cheerful, and helpful; to use our influence always for the right, and
never to fear to show our colors. We will always use our influence
against intemperance, the use of profane language or tobacco, disrespect
to the old, ill treatment of the young or unfortunate, and cruelty to
Nearly all present were eager to sign it; those who could write their
names doing so, and the others looking on with great satisfaction while
theirs were written by some one else. Thus a society was formed which,
for want of a better name, was called the "Do Good Society."
Etta was unanimously elected president; four girls of her class were
the officers. Meetings were to be held the first Saturday in every month
in the Sunday-school room, on which occasions those present were to
report attempts at carrying out the principles of the society as well as
all successes in doing so.
To this society and its welfare Etta Mountjoy devoted herself, throwing
into its concerns the whole activity of her versatile nature; making its
meetings so interesting, and imparting to it so much bright life and
activity, that it soon became the most popular institution in Squantown.
The society's first meeting was held one week after its organization. It
was raining softly, and the grass was damp and the air chilly; so the
children, nearly a hundred of whom were present, were glad to come into
the shelter of the pretty Sunday-school room, and while swelling with
the importance of being "a society," wait to see what "Miss Etta" would
do when she came. The girls were getting a little restless, and the boys
had begun to drum rather impatiently upon the floor, when the young lady
appeared, carrying in her hand a curious-looking box with a slit in the
top and a basket mysteriously covered down, which she deposited on the
desk, not as yet answering the questions which were spoken by the many
pairs of bright eyes before her.
The first thing the president did was to tell the children that they
might sing "Hold the Fort," which they did with such extraordinary force
and enthusiasm that they exhausted the excitement which was seething
within them, and sat quite still while the basket was unpacked and Etta
took from it a bottle of whitish-looking fluid, a clear glass goblet,
and a pure white egg. Then she gave them a little temperance talk,
reminding them of the sad death of poor Harry, which was known to them
all, and telling them that even when people did not drink enough liquor
to make them either stupid or quarrelsome, any quantity of it taken
into the stomach injures it very much.
To make them understand this she broke the egg-shell and dropped the
white of the egg into the goblet, holding it up and showing them how
soft and clear it was. Then, uncorking the bottle, she told them it
contained alcohol, the substance that is found in all intoxicating
drinks, even the weaker ones, such as wine and beer.
"Now, watch," she said; and as she poured two or three drops of the
liquid into the glass the interested eyes saw the egg grow white and
hard, and at last become tough and leathery. "This," she said, "is just
what happens when people drink anything that contains alcohol. The brain
is a substance like the white of an egg. The alcohol acts upon it in the
same way it has acted upon the white of this egg—it cooks it! The
brain of a drunkard becomes cooked—tough and leathery. The man cannot
think as clearly as other men. His mind becomes degraded." The children
all expressed their astonishment, and after they had talked a little
while, their teacher said:—
"I am sure you don't want people to injure their brains in this way, and
so you will be ready to keep that part of your pledge which says we will
'use our influence against intemperance,' of course."
"Yes, yes!" was shouted out by dozens of voices, and many hands went
up. One boy said:—
"How about tobacco?"
"Oh, we'll talk about that next time. Now I want you to sing again, and
then we will investigate the contents of this box," proceeding to unlock
it as she spoke.
When the second hymn was over Miss Etta drew out several folded papers,
and handing; them to the secretary, who had come in since the beginning,
asked her to read them aloud.
"Remember, children, that neither you nor I know who wrote them. They
have no signatures. Perhaps some of the children wrote them themselves,
perhaps they got their parents to do so. All we want to know is that
they are accounts of how some of our members have tried to be unselfish
and helpful to other people during the week that has past. I hope every
meeting we shall have a number of such papers to read. You can any of
you write them, and slip them into this box, and our secretary will read
them to us. But be sure that you don't put any names to them and that
what you write is true."
Last Friday I was going home from school when I saw two big boys hit
against an old woman, who was carrying along a heavy basket. I don't
know whether they did it on purpose, but they both began to laugh as the
basket upset, and the apples which were in it rolled all over the road.
I was just going to laugh too, the old woman looked so funny and
helpless, but I thought of our society, and I stooped down and picked up
all the apples and helped carry home the basket. The other boys laughed
at me and called me a baby. I wanted to swear at them dreadfully, but I
remembered what our pledge said about "profane swearing," and I just
held my tongue.
Mother wanted me to take care of the baby while she got supper the other
afternoon, but I wanted to go in the woods with Allie and get nuts. I'd
promised her ever so long, and this was the last chance, it's so near
winter. I was just going to say "No" to mother, and tell her babies were
a nuisance, when I noticed how tired she looked, and thought how she was
always doing things for all of us. Then I remembered our pledge, and I
took the baby and tried to be "cheerful and helpful" in amusing her,
setting the table between whiles. And in the evening, mother said she
did not know how she could have got along without me, she had such a
headache all the afternoon, but now she felt quite rested.
Five of us girls are going to form a bee. We haven't much time, but we
can take one evening each week, and we're going to make skating-bags for
our brothers and some of the other boys, so that they can keep their
skates clean and bright. We mean to hurry, so as to get them ready by
the first frosty weather.
There were several other papers, but these specimens are enough to show
the kind of work the Do Good Society was engaged in, and the nature of
the reports brought in from time to time. They were sometimes very
funny, and Miss Etta felt a little inclined to laugh as they were read,
but little by little they were educating the children to be unselfish
and helpful, and that, next to being godly, is the best thing in the
[Footnote 3: Condensed from the pledge of the Lookout Legion.]
The long-anticipated Harvest Home Festival arrived at last. All
Wednesday evening, and far into the night, the boys were busy, under
Etta's directions, in putting up the carefully prepared colored leaf
emblems, and arranging the grasses, fruits, and vegetables. Over every
pointed window was a garland of variously colored grasses, mixed with
bearded golden grain, and between each, one of the leaf emblems was
lightly tacked to the wall. From each gas-burner depended a rustic
basket, made of twisted sticks dipped in a cheap solution of gilt
powder, and filled with purple and white grapes, mixed with scarlet and
golden apples. Bouquets of ferns and grasses graced pulpit and baptismal
font. Against either end of the communion-table leaned a wonderfully
constructed cornucopia, from whose capacious mouth seemed to be pouring
out green squashes, yellow pumpkins, red and white beets, brown
potatoes, cabbages, cauliflowers, parsnips, and golden ears of corn,
packed in with cereals and nuts. On the table itself was a mighty pile
of all the fruits attainable so late in the season, and the decorations
were completed by a cross nearly six feet in height, composed entirely
of white everlasting flowers, placed in the window just above.
It was great fun to arrange all these pretty things, and the fun might
have degenerated into irreverence, but for the presence of Mr. Morven,
who occasionally said a few words concerning the sacredness of the
place, and managed to give the whole affair the appearance of a happy
service of the Lord and his church, so that each boy and girl went away
with a share of the gladness of those who work for God.
The Thanksgiving congregation was an unusually large one. The mills were
closed, of course, and many of the work-people who, perhaps, would have
hesitated at the idea of spending their rare holiday time in a church,
thought better of it when they remembered that doing so would certainly
please their employer. Not a very worthy motive, certainly. But there
are many motives which draw people to the house of God, not all of which
will bear close inspection. None the less, however, are they thus
brought under hallowed influences, and it may be that germinating seed
will be thus sown in their hearts, which the wayside birds will not
quite carry away.
The Methodists, who usually held Sunday services at the school-house,
three miles off, held none on Thanksgiving day, and were glad of a good
opportunity to see and attend the pretty new stone church on the hill.
Many of the neighboring families in the country round had city visitors
come to "spend Thanksgiving." And more than all, the fame of the harvest
decorations had spread far and wide, so that curiosity helped to fill
the church to overflowing. Mr. Morven was glad of the opportunity to
show how religion claims a place even in our festivities and helps to
brighten all our joys. He was especially desirous that the children and
young people should never look upon Christ's service as a thing of
gloom. He dwelt upon Thanksgiving day as an essentially national
festival, reminding his audience how it had originated when the Pilgrim
fathers met at the close of the first year of their hard life among New
England rocks to thank the God, in whose name and by whose power they
had laid the foundations of the new commonwealth on this side of the
sea. Then he told how the observance had gradually spread from State to
State; at first being appointed by the State Governor, on such day as
seemed to him fittest. Till at last, the wise and lamented President
Lincoln sent out a Thanksgiving proclamation, and appointed a uniform
day for the whole, great, reunited people.
"For what we are to give thanks, in addition to our great public
blessings," continued the preacher, "each one of us must look into his
individual life and surroundings to discover. These beautiful
decorations remind us of our indebtedness as a people for an abundant
harvest, not only of the grains and cereals which support our lives, but
also of the delicacies which make that life one of rich enjoyment. But,
my friends, this is Cain's sacrifice. Let us beware lest, as in his
case, it take the place of Abel's, and we learn to care more for the
things of our perishing life than for those eternal glories to which the
great sacrifice of which Abel's was typical is our only title. For
myself, as pastor of this church, I find special occasion for
thanksgiving in the large number who have, during the past year,
publicly given themselves to Christ, nearly all of whom, as I have every
reason to hope, have set out in earnest upon their heavenward
pilgrimage. These souls are a seal to my ministry among you, and for
them I gladly to-day render unto the Lord thanksgiving. An added cause
of thanksgiving to me personally is the able and earnest corps of
assistants who are here holding up my hands. Surrounded by mill-owners
whose first object is not so much money-making as the elevation of the
men, women, and children in their employ; with Eunices and Louises, who
labor with me for the upbuilding of Christ's kingdom in young human
hearts, and with a society of little folks whose purpose is to follow
their Great Master by going about to do good, I feel myself well
sustained in my responsible position; and, as I look forward to the
cares and duties of another year, I 'thank God and take courage.' And no
doubt, as you look down into your own hearts and back on the events of
the past year, you also see much cause for thanksgiving. Some of you
remember how, when you tossed on beds of fever, God's presence rebuked
the death-angel and you came back to a new and, as we trust, a better
life. Many of you know how, while the pestilence raged around you, both
you and your loved ones were safe from his fiery breath. Others of you
can recall how, when the swift punishment that sometimes visits those
who do not like to retain God in their knowledge and seek their own
pleasure rather than his service came among us, it was not your boy,
your brother, your dear one who met with a fearful and sudden death.
Even such of you as have been called to suffer during the year that is
gone by, to resist temptation, to conquer sin, to mourn over loved ones,
or to meet poverty and distress, know that, having received help of the
Lord, you continue unto this day. His strength has assured the hard-won
victory, his presence has lightened the gloom, his hand wiped away the
tear, his bounty fed the hungry. In all things he has more than kept his
promises, and I call upon you this day to
"'Render unto the Lord thanksgiving.'"
The afternoon was devoted to the Harvest Home Festival, and a very
pretty and successful service it was.
Long before three o'clock the main body of the church was filled with
parents, friends, and anxious spectators, many of whom had never been
inside of a church before. The front seats had been reserved for the
Sunday-school, whose members marched in singing as a processional:—
"Come, ye thankful people, come,
Raise the song of Harvest Home,"
at the close of which the whole congregation rose and sang:—
"Praise God, from whom all blessings flow."
A brief opening service followed, the infant class chanting the Lord's
prayer, the verses of Psalm lxv being read alternately by boys and
girls, after which Psalm cxxi—
"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills"—
was sung by the whole school.
The infant class then came forward, and standing in a group before the
desk recited each a text, which the superintendent called:—
"Autumn Leaves from the Tree of Life."
The verses were selected with great taste and care, and the little ones
did their part well. The following are some of those selected:—
Exodus xxvi, 16.
Leviticus xxii, 10.
Psalms l, 19; cxlv, 14; cxxxvi, 1, 25.
Isaiah lv, 10.
1 Corinthians x, 26.
Hebrews xiii, 2.
Revelations xix, 5.
The very little folks here closed their part of the performance with a
"Harvest Song," in which they had been well drilled.
Then the older classes arose and recited selected portions of Scripture
in unison, class by class.
Eunice Mountjoy's class gave "The harvest feast." Deut. xvi, 13-15.
Etta Mountjoy's class: "The harvest fruits are the gift of God." Psalms
James Mountjoy's boys: "Trust in the giver of the harvest." Luke xii,
Another boys' class: "The harvest of the world." Rev. xiv, 13-17.
Still another: "The harvest of the tares." Matthew xiii, 37-43.
And then the whole school sang:—
"What shall the harvest be?"
Then the recitations commenced again.
First class: "Men compared to fruit-trees." Matt, vii, 16-20.
Second class: "Different kinds of fruit." Gal. vi, 1-10.
Third class: "The curse of unfruitfulness." Matt, xxi, 18-20.
Fourth class: "Danger of setting the heart upon earthly fruits."
Luke xii, 15-21.
Fifth class: "Necessity of labor in harvesting." Prov. x, 3-5.
Sixth class: "Now, the harvest time." John iv, 35-38.
Whole school in unison: Psalm cl, entire.
The festival was closed by the singing of the hymn:—
"Praise to God, immortal praise,
For the love that crowns our days,"
as the children marched back to the schoolroom.
The whole performance was considered a great success. The superintendent
and his young assistants received many congratulations, and the parents
carried their little ones home well satisfied with their share in the
[Footnote 4: The above programme was actually carried out in a country
school of the writer's acquaintance, and is given in full for the
benefit of others who may be inclined to try a similar festival.
It may bevaried and prolonged by the introduction of poetical passages
concerning autumn, etc.]
The first meeting of the "Do Good Society" had proved so successful that
another was appointed for next week, at the request of the little
members. Mr. Morven came in and opened the meeting with a prayer this
time, after which he retired while the children were singing their first
hymn. Then the president read and explained the pledge again, and asked
all who had not done so already to sign it, after which she again
produced the box with a slit in the cover, into which she asked every
one to drop the papers on which they had written whatever they would
like to have read to the society.
There was a little tittering, a little rustling, some blushing, and
considerable hesitation, after which a good many of the girls and some
of the boys came up in a confused mass, and dropped some folded papers
into the box.
"Now," said Miss Etta, when all was quiet again, "I call upon the
secretary to read what is on these papers without the names,—for that
is the Bible way of not letting our right hand know what the left
does,—and if any of our little members, who don't know how to write,
have anything to report to the society, they may get some of the bigger
ones to write it down for them. Here are some slips of paper and pencils
I have provided on purpose."
Then there was another pause and some more rustling, whispering, and
laughing, and some more curiously written and folded papers were dropped
into the box.
These are what the secretary read:—
I was coming home from school one day when I saw old Mr. Kelly trying to
push his wheelbarrow of potatoes up the hill. He looked so weak that I
thought I would help him, so I called Jim Byers, and we took hold of the
wheelbarrow and wheeled it all the way to his door, where we emptied the
potatoes into a barrel and put them away in the cellar. It was great
"No doubt, it was," said Miss Etta.
Kittie always calls me names when she gets mad, and I always used to
think of the worst I knew to call her in return; but I thought I
wouldn't since I belong to the Do Good Society. So the next time she got
mad, and began to call names, I said: "Don't, Kittie, dear, let's love
each other. Here's a beautiful piece of lace to make a fichu for your
doll!" She hasn't called me names since.
"Of course not; who could?" was the comment.
I met four boys with cigarettes in their mouths one day. They all took
off their hats to me, but I looked the other way, as if I did not see
them. "Hallo," said one of them, "—is getting stuck up." "No, I ain't
stuck up; but I've promised not to encourage the use of tobacco." The
boys all laughed at me, but they threw away the cigarettes, for all
"Who wouldn't be laughed at to accomplish such results?"
My sister will tag onto me, wherever I go. She wanted to go nutting with
me and some other fellows. I was just going to tell her we didn't want
babies, when I remembered the pledge, so I took her along. She picked up
as many nuts as any of us. And she didn't cry a bit, even when she fell
down and scratched her hand dreadfully. I sha'n't call her cry-baby any
I work on a farm. The man I work for gives us beer sometimes. Last
Saturday night he offered me some. I wouldn't take it. "Why?" said he.
"Because I have promised to use my influence against the use of liquor.
I can't drink it."
Four of us boys have given up swearing. It's hard work, though,
sometimes—we're so used to it.
"Yes, it's hard work to give up any bad habit," said Etta. "But God will
help us if we ask him, and the sooner we begin, the easier it will be."
I wanted to buy, oh, such a lovely book! But I spent the money for
crackers, and took them down to the poor little Ryans, whose mother is
dead. I enjoyed seeing them eat them a great deal more than I should
have enjoyed the book.
I wanted to stay in bed awfully one morning. I do hate to get up! But I
thought about poor old Mrs. Payne, and how cold she would find it to get
up and make her fire in the dark, so I jumped right out of bed, ran down
to her cottage, made the fire, and set the tea-kettle over, and got back
in time for breakfast, after all.
I finished my work in the mill real early on Wednesday, because I wanted
to be first at Miss Eunice's. But Jennie Ray is so slow that she never
gets through hers till the last minute, so I turned to and helped her,
and we both got away at half-past five. I didn't get to Miss Eunice's as
early as usual, but Jennie did, a great deal earlier; so I didn't care.
The following were from the little children:—
"I helped mother wash the dishes."
"I set the table."
"I took care of the baby."
"I picked up apples."
"I made the fire," etc. etc.
* * * * *
"These are all very little things," said the president, as she detected
a smile upon the faces of some of the older girls and boys "But if they
are done really for the sake of 'doing good,' and pleasing God, they are
just as great to him as the 'cup of cold water,' which he says 'shall
not lose its reward.'"
"Here are some questions which were asked me last week after the
meeting," said Etta, as she finished reading the papers. "I wonder if
the girls to whom I gave them have found answers."
1. "Why is it wrong to drink beer?"
Several hands were raised and several answers given; such as:—
"Because it makes people drunk."
"Because it killed Harry."
Eric Robertson produced the following slip, which he had cut from a
paper, and read it aloud:—
"Beer is regarded by many in this country as a healthy beverage. Let me
give you a few of the ingredients frequently used in its manufacture.
The adulterations most commonly used to give bitterness are gentian,
wormwood, and quassia; to impart pungency, ginger, orange-peel, and
caraway. If these were all, there would be small need of warning the
young against the use of beer on account of its injurious ingredients,
but when there are added, to preserve the frothy head, alum and blue
vitriol; to intoxicate, cocculus indicus, nux vomica, and tobacco; and
to promote thirst, salt,—then indeed does it become necessary to
instruct and warn the innocent against the use of this poisonous
2. "Are cigarettes good for boys?"
No one answered, and Etta said:—
"Boys think it manly to smoke, but it isn't. It's very dirty and very
unhealthy. I heard of a little boy only twelve years old, who died very
suddenly, and when the doctors examined him after his death they found
the coats of his stomach all eaten up with tobacco, and yet he had only
smoked cigarettes. Cigarettes are made of a little tobacco, a great deal
of cabbage-leaves, old leather, and dirty paper, with snuff and ginger
and strychnine, a deadly poison, to flavor them. The oil of
tobacco itself is rank poison. Two or three drops of it put on the
tongue of a dog or a cat will kill it in a few minutes. Besides, the
smell of tobacco lingering in a boy's clothes or breath is very foul and
disgusting. And worse than all, the effect of smoking is to create a
thirst which pure, cool water does not satisfy, and those who begin by
smoking or chewing tobacco are very likely to end by drinking beer and
whiskey, and finally becoming drunkards."
Then questions to be answered at the next meeting were called for, and
the following were given:—
1. Is it wrong to wear pretty clothes?
2. Why shouldn't people be selfish?
3. Is it swearing to say "good gracious!" and "mercy on us!"?
Miss Etta did not answer these, but wrote them down in her note-book,
saying she would look up the subjects by the next meeting, and she
wanted the members of the "Do Good Society" all to do the same, and then
they could compare their answers.
The last part of the programme to-day was the reading of a story by the
president. She half-read and half-told about a young man named Harry
Wadsworth, who, although he was only a clerk in a railroad company,
managed, by giving all his spare time and thought, to do so many kind
things for other people, that when he died they all set about to honor
his memory by each doing kind things for others, and others again
followed their example, till thousands of people were all busy in
hundreds of different places, doing just as much as they could to help
other people and to discountenance everything evil, and to throw their
influence on the side of everything good.
Harry Wadsworth had four mottoes, which they all adopted. They were:—
"Look out and not in.
"Look forward and not back.
"Look up and not down.
"Lend a hand."
Miss Etta also told them that all sorts of clubs and societies, chiefly
composed of children, had grown out of this story, and that they were
called by different names; such as, "Wadsworth Clubs," "Lend a Hand
Societies," "Look Out Guards," and "Look Up Legions."
One of these Wadsworth clubs, a class of great, rough, overgrown boys in
a New York mission school, had supported a sick companion for a whole
winter out of the savings of their own scanty earnings. Another, a group
of rich Boston girls, kept three or four families of poor children
constantly dressed in the clothes which they made themselves. A third
had originated the idea of sea-side homes for sick city children.
"Our Do Good Society is to be like one of these," she said; "only we
must have for our motive something higher than just kindness to other
people. We must do good for Jesus' sake; because he does good to us and
because we want to please him by doing good to his other children. And,
boys and girls, we sha'n't be doing it the right way at all, if we are
the least bit proud of what we do and take any glory to ourselves about
it. We can not even think any good thing without the aid of the Holy
Spirit; certainly we can not perform any righteous action. So we must
always remember to ask for his presence, his direction, and his
strength, and in this, as in all our other ways, acknowledge him."
The Do Good Society set in motion a good many other things; for the
younger members, who had more time at their disposal, began to conceive
a passion for performing helpful acts, and they ferreted out cases of
distress which were often far beyond their power to relieve, but which
thus got into the right hands.
For instance, when the children reported the case of the
poverty-stricken Ryans, Miss Eunice set her "tea-party" to work to make
a set of clothes for the unexpected twin-baby, for whom there was no
provision, and sent a strong poor woman, whom her father paid, to take
care of the helpless little ones till some better and more permanent
arrangement could be made. When the boys found Harry Pemberton's mother
without "oven wood," which the strong arms of her unfortunate boy used
to prepare, they set about to gather and cut up enough to last her all
winter; and in doing so made the further discovery that she had neither
tea, sugar, nor flour in the house. This they reported at the next
meeting of the society, and the result was that abundance of provisions
of all kinds found their way into the poor old widow's dwelling, and she
was well cared for the short remainder of her sad life. Even Bertie
Sanderson caught the infectious enthusiasm, and devoted the money sent
by her city aunt to get her a velvet hat and feathers, just like her
cousins, to procuring a warm woolen dress and hood for a little girl in
the neighborhood, who could not go to school without it. She wore her
old felt all winter with content that would have been impossible a year
Many opportunities of doing good offered themselves as the winter came
on and sped away. There was what is called a crisis in the paper trade.
A great deal more had been manufactured than could possibly be used,
and no new orders were coming in. All that Mr. Mountjoy could do was to
go on making paper in the hopes of selling it in better times. But as no
money was coming in, it was hard to find enough with which to pay so
many work-people. Many mill-owners closed their factories at once, thus
throwing hundreds of workmen who had families dependent upon them out of
employment. Mr. Mountjoy was advised to do this, but he could not bear
to be the cause of so much suffering, and his son would not hear of it.
As the only other thing that was possible, he called them all together
one day at the close of the day's work, and explained the situation to
them, asking them if they would rather accept a much lower rate of
wages, or have the mill close altogether and go elsewhere in search of
There were some blank looks as men and women thought how hard it had
been to live at even the present rate of wages, but when the young man
showed them that even his proposal was only possible at a great
sacrifice to himself and the family, there was not a murmur. Everybody
accepted what must be, and though as the winter went on there was much
poverty and privation, there was no bad feeling, no signs of that
terrible desolation, so dreaded at such times—a strike.
The Mountjoys dismissed all their servants but one, the three daughters
cheerfully doing each a share of the housework, and assisting in the
preparation of broths, gruels, and other things needed for the sick and
poor, who greatly missed the higher wages which their natural protectors
had been earning. Neither girl bought a new article of wearing apparel,
and Etta decidedly declined to make her usual winter visit to the city,
saving thus a considerable sum of money and much still more valuable
time for the blessed service to which she had devoted herself.
And so the storm was weathered, and when work recommenced in the spring
with even better prospects and at the old rates of remuneration, every
one was glad; but no one had really suffered, thanks to the "Do Good
Society" and the consecrated hearts that were faithfully endeavoring to
acknowledge God "in all their ways."
With so many interests to fill her leisure hours, as well as such a
pleasant and restful home, our little Katie continued to bear the
confinement and hard work of the mill better than her friends had
expected she would. Though she grew rapidly taller, she did not become
either pale or thin. She continued to like her work, and became more and
more of a favorite, both with her companions and her employers. The
affair of the fifty-dollar bill had been thoroughly explained, and for a
time Katie was looked upon quite as a martyr heroine. She was a little
in danger of being spoiled by the attention she received, and but for
the remembrance of how nearly she had yielded to the temptation to do
wrong, her Christian character might have been seriously injured.
Poor Bertie, however, had a hard time of it when she first went back to
the mill. Of course, it had been impossible to right her companion
without implicating herself, and it was hard for her to meet the
significant looks and tones of some of the other girls, who did not
believe in the new saintship and did very much despise the old malice
Although forgiven for the guilt of her sin, the poor girl had to find
that she could not avoid all its punishment. No one can; and though God
may forgive us freely for the sake of his dear Son, and give us a new
heart or a new purpose of action, we shall still have to suffer many of
the consequences of the wrong we have done, and it can never be quite as
though we had never sinned, which fact it would be well to remember
before we are led into evil.
Many a time the poor girl, quite unaccustomed to control herself, would
almost break out into some furious response to an unkind word or implied
taunt, and remember just in time that she was pledged to the Lord's
service and must not disgrace his cause. A swift, silent prayer for help
then would always bring the promised aid of the Holy Spirit, and so by
degrees Bertie learned to conquer herself and to lead others to see
that her repentance was sincere and her faith genuine. Katie's
friendship was a great blessing to her at this time. Katie had entirely
forgiven her treacherous friend's part in the affair which had caused
her so much sorrow. She remembered only her dangerous illness, and that
they were both now fellow-Christians and members of the same church. She
was anxious to do all in her power to help Bertie in her struggle
against the sins of her heart and the bad habits of her life, and, as is
apt to be the case when we forgive and try to help any one, she soon
came to love her very much. And this friendship and support served, more
than anything else, to reinstate Bertie in the good graces of the other
It was stated some time since that Mrs. Robertson had other plans with
reference to her family of girls and boys, which she intended to put in
operation when the long winter evenings came. This was the formation of
a class for regular study, of at least one or two of the branches which
her own children had attended to at school. But these plans were
afterward merged in those of the young manufacturer.
The mill-girls, although they had generally had fair common-school
advantages before they commenced work, were, of course, from that time
totally deprived of them. They knew how to read, write, and "do
examples" in the simpler rules of arithmetic. Perhaps this would be
quite education enough for those girls who are to pass their lives in
factories of the older world. But it is not so in America, where
everybody reads and everybody thinks, where no one is stationary, no
position permanent—where the operative of to-day is the employer of
to-morrow—where many a girl steps from a position of toil and honorable
self-support into that of mistress of a mansion, and is called to
dispense a hospitality which in other lands would be called princely. In
our as yet unsettled mode of existence, education is the one thing
needful, because education is the only thing of which the "chances and
changes" of life can not strip us—the only thing which will adapt
itself gracefully to any position, from the cottage and tenement-room to
the presidential chair.
Eunice and James Mountjoy had often talked over the loss of educational
advantages to which boys and girls entering the mill at so early an age
were of necessity subjected, and this winter they took their youngest
sister into confidence. The result was the commencement of a "night
school," held, however, from four o'clock till seven. The mill was now
only working three-quarters time, so these three hours remained to be
filled up, and no one objected to putting off supper an hour for this
The school-house did double duty—the day scholars departing just as the
more advanced classes assembled, and the trustees gladly gave the use of
the building for so beneficent a purpose. But it was not to be expected
that the poor young overworked teacher could do double duty too. She
was, in fact, only a girl, not much in advance of the "night scholars,"
either in age or acquirements, and well calculated to profit with them
by superior advantages. Another hired teacher was not to be thought of,
for the school committee were not entrusted with spare funds, and the
Mountjoys, who might have furnished a teacher's board and salary upon
ordinary occasions, were this winter taxed to the utmost strain their
finances would bear.
In this dilemma Etta made the startling proposition of becoming teacher
"You!" said Eunice, in astonishment. For to her, her sister always
seemed the little child whom her dead mother had confided to her care.
"You're not old enough. I thought of offering myself, but really my
hands are full, I can't do another thing."
"I should think not," said James. "You do everything for us all. You
need four hands for what you do already. But why should not Etta? You
don't need her help in the afternoons, and surely she ought to be
"I am afraid"—
"I know," broke in the girl. "You are afraid I will get tired of it, and
drop it as I have done so many things. You've a right to think so. But
you know I have a new motive and a new strength now. Eunice, what is the
use of my superior education, if I can't do something with it for the
Lord? It seems to me that this is one of the 'ways' in which I can
'acknowledge him.' Won't you let me try it?"
"If papa will consent," said her sister. And that settled it, as they
all knew; for Mr. Mountjoy always consented that Etta should do exactly
as she pleased. He only stipulated that her brother should always be on
hand to bring her home, as during the winter months the school would not
be over till after dark.
Etta proved—as all knew she would prove—a very efficient and
interesting teacher. It was quite amusing to her brother, when he
sometimes came for her half an hour before school was over, to see the
quiet dignity with which she kept the great rough boys in order. But the
work soon became too much for her alone. The "night school" grew into
such a popular institution that it had more pupils than one person could
properly attend to in the short space of three hours. So Mr. James
arranged his time at some personal sacrifice to himself, and managed to
take some of the classes. While, to the great astonishment of all,
Rhoda, the middle sister, came out of her shell sufficiently to
volunteer to give drawing lessons to such of the boys and girls as
should show any decided talent or inclination. There is something
contagious in beneficence. Those surrounded by its atmosphere are sure,
sooner or later, to take the infection. Of course this school was better
for the children than any plan of Mrs. Robertson's devising could have
been, and her whole family were among its most enthusiastic and
energetic members. Gretchen learned to write English, and Tessa to read
and care for better things than sentimental fiction. And Eric, while far
outstripping her in his studies, seemed to find great pleasure in
assisting in hers, helping her over difficulties, and carrying her books
to and from the school. But by far the brightest of the scholars were
Katie and Alfred Robertson. They both learned so easily, and exhibited
so much enthusiasm in the pursuit of knowledge, that once Eunice
Mountjoy said to Mrs. Robertson:—
"It seems almost a pity that your children should be obliged to perform
mill-work. My brother says that Alfred shows quite an uncommon taste
for natural science, especially chemistry. And I think our little Katie
would, after a few years' study, make a capital teacher, and you know
she would make a great deal more money in that way than she ever can in
the mill, with much less expenditure of time and strength."
"Yes," said Mrs. Robertson, with a sigh. "I never thought that my
husband's children would have to work for a living."
"Working for a living is not degrading, Mrs. Robertson. The doctor
himself did that."
"Of course. But he did it as a gentleman—not in a mill."
"My father and brother, too, earn their livings in a mill, and neither
they nor we feel at all degraded by it," said Eunice, quietly. "Only, if
your boy has talents which will fit him for a profession beneficial to
the human race, like that of his father's, it seems almost a pity that
they should not be cultivated. Depend upon it, self-support is always
honorable, for man or woman, and we should consider our work high or
low, not because it is considered 'genteel' or not, but because it does
or does not do the most good. I wish that something could turn up to
help both Alfred and Katie to better educations, for I believe they
might thus do a great deal more good."
And Mrs. Robertson wished so too. But she was wise enough not to say
anything to her children about it.
Better things were in store for the children, however, than their
mother's heart had dared to hope for; and for once she felt thoroughly
ashamed of her murmurings and want of faith. One evening toward spring,
when the merry group came from school more noisily than usual, and, as
usual, greatly in want of their delayed supper, they were all slightly
astonished to see a light in the window of the seldom-used sitting-room.
They noticed, as they went in, a strange hat in the hall.
"What can your mother be doing in the best room?" said Tessa, as she and
Katie reached their own room.
Tessa was always inquisitive, and the sight of a strange man's hat had
greatly excited her curiosity.
"I am sure I don't"—but at that moment the girls were interrupted by
Alfred, who rushed in without knocking, and shouted, though quite out of
breath with excitement:—
"Katie! Katie! Mother wants you! Come quick! Who do you suppose is here?
It's Uncle Alfred—all the way from California! Isn't it splendid?"
"I didn't know we had an uncle in California, did you?" said Katie.
But there was no opportunity for her brother to answer, as by this time
they had reached the parlor door, which stood open now, and both
children were warmly embraced by a gentleman whom at first neither of
them could see.
"What an old man I must be," said the gentleman, as he released them,
"to have three such grown-up people for nephews and nieces! And it seems
only the other day since Eric and I, and you too, Linda, were no bigger.
Yet they were all born after I went away. Such a little time!"
"But many sad things have happened since then, Alfred. It seems to me a
very long time since your brother Eric went away never to come back,
and left me to battle with the world with no one to help me feed and
educate his children."
There was a slight tone of reproach in the widow's tone as she said
this, but the returned brother did not seem to notice it, as he said
"No one but God. You would have told me in the old days when I didn't
believe it or care for it that you could not have a better or more
efficient friend; and now that I do believe it, I am sure that you have
found it true."
"Yes, I have," said the mother, looking with thankful pride upon her
well-grown boys, and bright and healthy, if diminutive, little girl.
"God has been very good to us, and I have every reason to think well of
his protecting care."
"And the children," said their uncle, "have they too learned to trust in
their Saviour and do his will?"
"Eric and Katie have. Alfred is, I am afraid, a little too much like his
uncle of old times."
"I am sorry to hear that. He loses so much of the joy of youth and the
strength of growing up into true manliness. I hope he will never have
cause to be as sorry as his uncle is that he did not give his Saviour
'the kindness of his youth.' But we will have plenty of time to talk
about all these things by-and-by. Just now I am as anxious for my supper
as these young folks must be. I remember of old, Linda, what a good
supper you can give a hungry traveler, and I don't suppose I need an
"Why, no!" said his hostess, with a little flush of embarrassment. "Only
you must prepare yourself for a somewhat large tea-party, and not of a
very aristocratic kind. For, you know, I keep a sort of factory
"One who has camped with California miners is not likely to be very
fastidious," said Mr. Robertson. "But I suspect if your boarders are
companions of this niece of mine, they will be good enough company for
OUT INTO THE WORLD.
"So you wouldn't like to be my little girl and go to school and be
educated for a lady," said Mr. Alfred Robertson to his niece, a few days
after he had made his unexpected appearance among his relatives.
"I'd like to go to school and study, of course," said Katie. "Uncle,
don't think me very rude or ungrateful, but I wish you would send
"Why, rather than yourself?"
"Because Alfred is a boy, and he wants to be a doctor like father. He
never told mother, because he thought it would make her feel badly. He
knew she hadn't any money to send him to school or college, so he just
worked on at the mill, though I know he hates it."
"But, little girl, it would cost a great deal of money to send a boy
through college and support him while he was studying a profession. Have
you thought of that?"
"I don't know, sir. I don't know much about money. You are not rich
enough to do it then? I'm so sorry," and there was a tone of great
disappointment in the young voice.
"I am rich enough perhaps, but"—
"Oh, sir! Alfred would be sure to pay it back as soon as he became a
doctor. I could begin to pay you now. I make six dollars a week in the
mill as it is, and I could make more if mother would let me work over
hours. Alfred wouldn't like to take charity, and I wouldn't like to have
Her uncle laughed. "So it is because she is an independent little piece
that she does not want to go to school and learn to be a lady," said he.
"I'd like very much to learn to be a teacher," said she. "Miss Eunice
thinks that teachers can do a great deal of good, and I could make money
to help mother with, just as well or better than I can in the mill."
"Well, you shall go to school on your own terms. You shall have the
education anyway, and do what you like afterward. And since you are so
very independent, I will lend you the money and you may pay it all back
to me when you begin to make your fortune by school-teaching. Is it a
The little girl blushed with delight, threw her arms around her kind
uncle, giving him a kiss by way of thanks, and rushed off to tell her
wonderful news to her mother. But she found it was not quite such news
as she expected it to be. Mr. Robertson and his sister-in-law had talked
it all over after the little folks were in bed, and he had definitely
offered to give the two children the education which their mother had so
greatly desired. He had amassed considerable property during his
seventeen years' sojourn in California, and having no children of his
own, was anxious to make up to those of his brother for his long
"I never thought anything about my duty toward them," he said, "until
God brought me to myself, and showed me what a sinner I was, and then
brought me to himself, and showed me what a Saviour he is. Then I began
to remember all my neglected duties, and I determined to come home and
atone for the past as soon as I could."
The proposal of sending Eric, also, to school had been made to him. But
he gratefully declined. He was almost a man now, and was used to his
work and liked it. He stood well with his employers, and hoped before
many years to rise to the position of superintendent of one of the
departments. His one great ambition was to become such a manufacturer as
Mr. James. And in the meanwhile he would be at home to watch over his
mother and contribute to her support. His uncle admired his pluck and
independence, and did not press his offers farther upon him. Alfred was
delighted. It was as Katie had said: he had endured the bindery because
he must, and he was a boy of too good principles to worry over the
inevitable, or to make people unhappy because of his likes or dislikes.
But, all the same, he had disliked his work, and longed to do something
more in accordance with his tastes. Only to Eric and Katie had he
confided his indefinite longings, and his mother had never guessed how
much he had desired a change. Now he was full of plans for the future;
looking forward especially to the days when he should restore his
father's sign to its old position, fit up the house and office as it
used to be, and support his mother in ease and comfort once more.
But that was a long way off. A great deal of hard studying had to be
done first, and Alfred was far behind other boys of his age—in book
knowledge, at least. Perhaps he had, during his three years' experience
in the factory, learned a good deal which would eventually prove very
useful in a profession which dealt with practical details of practical
things. About one thing he was quite decided. Delicate little Katie
should never again work for her living. When she left school she should
be a lady, like Miss Eunice and Miss Etta at the great house, and idle
all day long if she chose to do so.
"But I don't choose," laughed Katie. "Do you think an independent young
lady, who has made her own living for more than a year, will ever
consent to be dependent upon any one, even if he is her brother?
Besides, who wants to be idle? I am sure Miss Eunice isn't idle; nor
Miss Etta, now. They are both as busy as they can be all the time; and
Mr. James, too. Think how much good he does, and all of them!"
"Oh, if you mean that kind of work! Miss Eunice and Miss Etta don't
get paid for what they do. They don't work for a living."
"I think they do," said Mr. Robertson, who had listened quietly to the
talk of the children. "I think that every noble, honorable man and woman
works, and is glad to work, for a living. The old saying that 'the world
owes us a living' is a very fallacious one. The world doesn't owe us
anything, and God does not either. Indeed, he has said: 'If any man will
not work, neither shall he eat.'"
"Everybody does not work—for money, I mean," said Alfred. "Some people
are gentlemen and ladies."
"If you call idlers gentlemen and ladies, we do not agree as to terms;
but if you mean, as I suppose you do, that some people, especially a
large proportion of women and girls, do not formally receive a definite
amount of money for a definite amount of work, that is true. Don't you
think, though, that mothers and sisters and wives, who keep house, take
care of little children, do all the family sewing, care for the sick,
and attend to the many details of a woman's life, work?—yes, do a great
deal of work for a very small amount of living? Think of your mother for
"Yes, sir; I see."
"And," continued his uncle, "when ladies devote themselves faithfully to
good works, Sunday-school work, work among the poor, teaching, etc.,
they are as really working for their living as if they were in a
"It doesn't seem so."
"No, it doesn't seem so, because we have wrong ideas about the nobility
of labor. If we really believed what the Bible says,—that the servant
of all is the chiefest of all,—we should value work and workmen just in
proportion to the use which the work they do is to the community and the
world. In that sense, Alfred, a doctor's work or a minister's work might
stand a little higher than a manufacturer's, a teacher's position be
more desirable than that of a factory-girl, because in all of these
professions there is more opportunity to do good to the bodies and souls
of men; and yet I doubt if any are in a position to do more good than
your Mr. James Mountjoy and his family. And as to being gentlemen or
ladies, it is just as much your duty and just as possible to be those in
the rag-room as in a palace, should your lot be cast there."
"It is not considered so genteel," said Tessa, who had not quite
forgotten the teachings of her novels.
"By whom? Foolish butterflies? or men and women of sense? Gentility
meant, originally, gentleness: that gentleness which better
opportunities of education were supposed to give. But so much culture as
that is now within the reach of every one, and there is no reason why it
should not exist in the mill and the counting-room, the kitchen and the
store, as well as in the parlor and the library."
"But after all," said Mrs. Robertson, "there seems something low and
sordid in working for money."
"That is because we should not work for money—as the motive of work, I
mean. If every one in the world were a Christian, and did the work which
came to him to do, upon Bible principles, endeavoring to fulfil the
precept: 'Whether ye eat or drink or whatsoever ye do, do all to the
glory of God,' and accepted his living, small or great, from his hands,
just as a little child accepts his from his father's hands, we should
hear nothing about the degradation of service. Every one would
constantly say: 'Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?' And we should take
our daily bread, as well as all the pleasant things of our lives,
thankfully from him who has given us all things to enjoy."
Mr. Robertson was rather answering his sister and talking a little above
the level of his auditors, but some of them understood and remembered
his words. To Katie, henceforth work had an added dignity. It was raised
even above the high level upon which she had thus far placed it,—that
of helping her mother,—and became something that she might do for Jesus
who had done, and was still doing, so much for her. She was quite
impatient to enter upon those studies which were to fit her for future
usefulness, and many a time during her school life, when the novelty had
worn away and her energies might have flagged, she was stirred up to
new zeal and perseverance by the recollection of this conversation.
To the other girls also this talk about work and compensation was
beneficial. Perhaps they might have felt a little jealous at Katie's
apparent elevation above themselves,—even Christian girls have wrong
feelings sometimes,—but if factory-work could really be done to the
glory of God as much as teaching could, there was nothing degrading in
their work, nothing aristocratic in Katie's. God had given her one kind
of work to do, and them another—that was all. They could please him as
well as she; and he would give to all alike a great deal more than they
And now began a busy time in the doctor's old house. Brother and sister
must be fitted out for school with such wardrobes as they had never
possessed in their lives before. Uncle Alfred's ready purse provided
these, but he was careful not to destroy the independent spirit of his
young relatives, and let them consider this as the first instalment of
Katie left the factory at the close of the week, receiving with her
usual weekly wages an extra five-dollar bill, as a testimonial from Mr.
James for her uniform faithfulness and the good example she had always
set in the mill.
"We are sorry to lose you, Katie," he said, "but I am glad that you are
to be advanced to better work and a wider sphere of usefulness. Wherever
you go, the prayers of Squantown Sunday-school will go with you, and I
am sure that you will always find, as you have done already, the truth
of the words:—
"'Commit thy way unto the Lord, and he shall bring it to pass.'"
Nor did the pleasant incidents stop here. On the Wednesday following,
Miss Eunice again invited all the girls of her sister's class to unite
with those of her own. There was no lesson that night, and very little
work done. All the brothers and friends, who usually acted as escorts,
were invited to come to tea, and all the members of the "Do Good
Society." There was room for all, and all had "a splendid time." Games
were played, and songs sung, and everybody was made to understand that
this was a farewell party in honor of Katie Robertson.
At nine o'clock Mr. Morven came in, and, with a few pleasant and
earnest words, presented the little girl with a beautifully bound Bible,
to the purchase of which every one present had contributed a little.
"I trust," said he, "that our little Katie will make this book 'the man
of her counsel, and the guide of her youth,' in the new life upon which
she is entering, and that, as the Saviour to whom she has consecrated
herself will surely keep his promise 'never to leave or forsake her,'
she will be faithful 'in all her ways to acknowledge him,' and grow in
grace as she does in knowledge."
Then, calling his little congregation to join with him, the good pastor
prayed that the dear Lord would guide and guard this lamb of his through
"all the chances and changes of this mortal life, and finally bring her
to his heavenly kingdom."
And so, with loving kisses, and gifts, and solemn words of prayer, they
sent Katie Robertson out into the world to meet its responsibilities.
The next morning, in the early dawn, she and her brother set out with
their uncle for the schools in which they were to be fitted for their
life-work. And as these schools were a long way off, and the journey
thither rather expensive, it was many months before Squantown saw them
And now we must draw our story to a close. The reader has become
acquainted with its characters, and knows about the agencies for good
which are at work in the manufacturing town of Squantown, as well as the
influences brought to bear upon the Christian development of our boys
and girls. The machinery is all adjusted, the power is applied, the
wheels are in motion—nothing can hinder continued and beneficent work,
except the possible weariness in well-doing of any of the parts, and the
failure to look to God in faith for his promised strength, thus cutting
off the connection with the source of all good things. So long as
manufacturers and operatives, teachers and scholars, pastors and people
continue in all their ways to acknowledge God, this will not be the
case; and the manufacturing village will realize the scriptural idea:
"Happy is that people that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people
whose God is the Lord."
We may expect to look ahead and see the boys and girls with whom we are
acquainted, growing up into good, useful, and happy men and women.
Bertie Sanderson will, little by little, overcome her natural and
acquired faults of character. Envy and malice have already received
their death blow, vanity and idleness will follow in their train. The
higher interests of Christian love and church-work will dwarf the
importance of dress and display, and Bertie will grow into a useful
girl, faithful to, and contented with, her position—a help to her
mother at home, a good example to Nina and the younger children.
We may expect to see Gretchen growing into a strong, sturdy German
woman, sending home from time to time the savings of her earnings, which
will help to make her far-off brothers and sisters very comfortable, the
deep, though quiet, force of her affections expanding themselves to
embrace many others on this side of the sea. We may be sure that her
constant nature, upheld by divine grace, will never lose its hold of
the Saviour who came to take care of her in answer to her Sunday-school
teacher's call that Sunday evening when she seemed to be so near to the
We may hope to see the other members of Miss Etta's class, Miss Eunice's
tea-party, and the "Do Good Society," all growing wiser and better as
they grow older, and becoming more and more Christ-like as they follow
in his steps. And we may be sure that Etta Mountjoy, cured of her
erratic moods and wayward temper, first by being anchored to the rock of
ages, and then by the safeguards and helps which the church of Christ
throws around its members, will be still foremost in leading the little
phalanx, her energy and enthusiasm insuring success in every good thing
undertaken. She will find time for home duties as well as those of a
more public kind, will be a right hand to Eunice as she continues on the
even tenor of her way, and the sunshine of home to her father and
brother James, until some good man discovers the sunshine and bears it
away with him to be the illumination of another circle and the centre of
We may see "Mr. James" still the considerate Christian mill-owner,
conducting business on the strictest principles of integrity, and
treating his employees as though of the same flesh and blood as himself,
for whose bodies and souls he is in some measure responsible. And when
at length Eunice drops the housekeeping into the hands of "Mrs. James,"
we may be sure that she, as well as her husband, will continue to "honor
God with their substance" and "in all their ways acknowledge him."
If we turn our prophetic gaze upon the Robertson family, we shall find
that the mother thereof is gradually exchanging her grumbling and
forebodings of evil for hope and thankfulness at the success and good
prospects of her children, who are profiting largely by the
opportunities afforded them by their uncle's kindness.
While greatly missing her from her home, the mother does not feel
Katie's absence as she would have done but for the girl boarders, who,
while affording her both society and support, give her such ample
occupation that she has little time to realize her loneliness or to
indulge in fretfulness. Indeed, Tessa has already forestalled her future
position, and become to the widow as a beloved daughter. The sweetness
and softness of the Southern girl fit her to take culture and refinement
very easily. She quickly assimilates with her surroundings, and models
herself upon those she loves and admires—who are, in this instance,
Katie Robertson and Etta Mountjoy. From the first, bold, bright Eric has
felt the charm of her black eyes, and loved to listen to her soft,
foreign accent, and it would not be surprising if, when he reaches the
height of his ambition, and becomes either superintendent of the bindery
or first foreman of the mill, he should ask Italian Tessa to share both
his name and his success. But that is a great way off.
Katie is our first friend. With her character and fortune we have the
most to do. It would be nice, did the limits of our volume allow, to
follow her into her new school-life, to see how her energy, industry,
independence, and cheerfulness go with her, rebuking homesickness, and
causing her to make the most of every moment, and the best of every
advantage. We should see that her path at school is not all strewn with
roses, any more than was that at the mill; that different circumstances
bring different temptations and develop different traits of character.
We might perhaps find that silly school-girls at first decline to admit
on terms of perfect equality one who had "worked for her living," and
was, in their not very elegant parlance, "nothing but a mill-girl."
Perhaps we might have to chronicle some lonely and sad hours in
consequence, and some rebellious feelings hard to be kept down.
But Katie's life is in the keeping of One wise enough to arrange all its
discipline, "as it may be most expedient for her," loving enough to
sympathize with and comfort her in all times of sorrow and perplexity,
and able with every temptation to make also a way of escape.
So, guarded and guided, Katie Robertson will be able to live down all
that foolish and proud girls may say about her, and in the end become a
favorite, not only with the wise, discriminating teachers, but also with
warm-hearted, if wrong-headed, companions. We believe that throughout
life, as in its beginning, she will continue to "seek first the kingdom
of God and his righteousness," and that, as she daily endeavors "in all
her ways to acknowledge him," he will "give her the desires of her