« AnteriorContinuar »
Tales and sketches.
THE LITTLE MAID-OF-ALL-WORK. 1 of voice, he soon restored pleasure to the BY T. S. ARTHUR.
heart, and smiles to the countenance, of
the little one. Supper was not ready when Abraham Munday listed the latch of his humble
Mrs. Munday felt rebuked for her impa.
tience. She often suffered from dwelling, at the close of a long, weary
these summer day. He was not greatly dis
silent rebukes. And yet the trials of
temper ehe endured were very great. No appointed, for it often so happened. The
relish for food was left. The wants of the table was on the floor, partly set, and the
two children were attended to, and then, kettle over the fire. “ There it is again !” exclaimed Mrs.
while Mr. Munday held the baby, che Munday, fretfully: “home from work, and
busied herself in clearing off the table, no supper ready. The baby has been so
washing up the tea things, and putting the
room in order. cross,-hardly out of my arms the whole afternoon. I'm glad you've come, though.
An hour later, baby was asleep, and the Here, take him, while I fly around and get
other children with it in the land of things on the table.”
dreams. Mrs. Munday was busy sewing Mr. Munday held out his arms for the
a little frock, and Mr. Munday sat with his little one, who sprang into them with a
face turned from the light, in a browa baby shout..
study. Mrs. Munday did fly around in good
“Lotty," said the latter, waking up from earnest. A few pieces of light wood thrown
his reverie, and speaking with considerable on the fire, soon made the kettle sing, and
emphasis, “It's no use for you to keep steam, and bubble. In a wonderfully short
going on in this way any longer. You are space of time all was ready; and the little
wearing yourself out. And what's more, family, consisting of husband, wife, and
there is no comfort at home for anybody. three children, were gathered around the
You must get a woman to help you about
the house." table. To mother's arms the baby was transferred; and she had no very easy task
“We can't afford it, Abraham,” was Mrs. in pouring out her husband's tea, preparing
Munday's calm but decided answer.
“We must afford it, Lotty. You are cups of milk and water for the two elder of the little ones, and restraining the baby,
killing yourself.” who was grappling the sugar-bowl, then the
“A woman will cost seven shillings & milk-pitcher, and next the teapot.
week, and her board at least as much more. “There !" suddenly exclaimed Mrs. Mun..
We can't spare that sum, and you only get day. And two quick slaps on baby's head
fifty shillings a week.” were heard. Baby, of course, answered
The argument was unanswered. Mr. promptly with a wild scream. But what
Munday sighed, and was silent. Again his had baby done! The whole surface is
face was turned from the light, and again covered with milk. His busy, fluttering
the hand of his wise plied quickly the hands, had overturned the pitcher.
glittering needle. Poor Mrs. Munday lost her temper com
“I'll tell you what we might do,” said pletely. “It's of no use attempting eating
Mrs. Munday, after a lapse of nearly ten with this child,” said she, pushing her chair minutes. back from the table. “I never have any “Well?” Her husband turned toward good of my meals.”
her, and assumed a listening attitude. Mr. Munday's appetite failed him at once.
“We might take a small girl to help in He continued to eat, however, but more
the family. It would only cost us her hurriedly. Soon he pushed back his chair
victuals and clothes.' also, and, rising up, said cheerfully,
Mr. Munday mused for some time before “ There, I'm done, Lotty. Give me the answering. He didn't just like the proposibaby while you eat your supper."
tion. And he took the sobbing child from the
“Anything,” he at last said, “ to lighted arms of its mother. Tossing it up, and your labour. But can you get one ?" speaking to it in a lively, affectionate tone “I think so. You remember poor Mrs
Barrow, who died last month? She left a , her husband, leaning over to him as they little girl, about eleven years old, with no sat at the table. “And the baby seems 80* one to see after her but an old aunt, who, fond of her.” I've heard, isn't very kind to the child. Mr. Munday said nothing, but before his No doubt she would be glad to get her into mind was distinctly pictured his own little a good place. It would be very easy for girl, a servant in the house of a stranger. her here. She could hold the baby, or On his return from work in the evening, rock it in the cradle, while I was at work everything wore a like improved appearabout the house, and do a great many little ance. Supper was ready, and Mrs. Munday things for me that would lighten my task had nothing of the worried look so appawonderfully. It is the very thing, husband," rent on the occasion of her first introducadded Mrs. Munday, with animation. “And tion to the reader. Everything wore an if you agree, I will run over and see Mrs. improved appearance, did we say? No, Gooch, her aunt, in the morning, before not everything. There was a change in you go to work.”
the little orphan girl, and Mr. Munday saw “ How old did you say she was ?" en at a glance, that the change so pleasant to quired Mr. Munday.
contemplate, had been made at her expense. “ She was eleven in the spring, I believe.” The tidy look noticed at dinner-time was
“ Our Aggy is between nine and ten." gone. Her clothes were soiled and tumSomething like a sigh followed the words; bled; her hair had lost its even, glossy for the thought of having the little Aggy appearance, and her manner showed exturned out motherless, among strangers,
treme weariness of body and mind. She to do the drudgery and task-work, forced was holding the baby. None saw the tears itself upon his mind.
that crept over her cheeks, as the family " True. But a year or so makes a great gathered around the tea-table, and, forgetdifference. Besides, Anna Barrow is an ful of her, enjoyed the evening meal. uncommonly smart girl of her age.”
Supper over, Mrs. Munday took the baby Mr. Munday sighed again.
and undressed it, while Anna sat down to “ Well," he said, after being silent for a eat her portion of the food. Four times, few minutes, “you can do as you think ere this was accomplished, did Mrs. Munday best. But it does seem hard to make a send her up to her chamber for something servant of a mere child like that."
wanted either for herself or the child. “ You call the position in which she will “ You must learn to eat quick, Anna,” be by too hard a name," said Mrs. Munday. said Mrs. Munday, ere the little girl, in “I can make her very useful without over- consequence of these interruptions, was tasking her. And, then, you know, as she half through her supper. Anna looked has got to earn her own living, she cannot frightened and confused, pushed back her acquire habits of industry too soon."
chair, and stood gazing enquiringly into the Mrs. Munday was now quite in earnest face of her mistress. about the matter, so much so that her hus “ Are you done ?" the latter coldly asked. band made no other objections. On the “Yes, ma'am,” was timidly answered. next morning she called to see Mrs. Gooch, “ Very well. Now I want you to clear the aunt of Anna Barrow,
off the table. Gather up all the things, and The offer to take the little girl was take them out into the kitchen. Then accepted at once.
shake the table-cloth, set the table back, When Mr. Munday came home at dinner and sweep up the room.” time, he found the meal ready, and waiting Mr. Munday looked at his wife, but said his appearance. Mrs. Munday looked nothing. cheerful and animated. In a corner of the “Shall I help Anna, mother ?" enquired room sat a slender little girl, not much Aggy. larger than Aggy, with the sleeping baby "No," was rather sharply answered. in ber arms. She listed her eyes timidly “ Have you studied your lesson ?" to the face of Mr. Munday, who gave her ; "No." a kind look.
“Go about that, then; it will be as much “Poor motherless child !” such was his as you can do before bed-time.” thought.
Mrs. Munday undressed her baby with “I can't tell you how much assistance considerably more care than usual, obsery. she is to me," whispered Mrs. Munday to 1 ing all the while the proceedings of Anna,
and every now and then giving her a word * of instruction. She felt very comfortable,
as she finally got back in her chair, with her little one asleep in her arms. By this time Anna was in the kitchen, where, according to instruction, she was washing up the tea things. While thus engaged to the best of her small abilities, a cup slipped from her hand, and was broken on the floor. The sound startled Mrs. Munday from her agreeable state of mind and body.
" What's that ?" she cried.
“A cup, ma'am,” was the trembling answer.
“ You're a careless little girl," said Mrs. Munday, rather severely. The baby was now taken up stairs and laid in bed. After this, Mrs. Munday went to the kitchen, to see how her little maid-of-all-work was getting on with the supper dishes. Not altogether to her satisfaction it must be owned.
“You will have to do all over again," she said, -not. kindly and encouragingly, but with something captious and authoritative in her manner. “Throw out the water from the dish-pan, and get some more.”
Anna obeyed, and Mrs. Munday seated hereelf by the kitchen-table to observe her movements, and correct them when wrong.
“Not that way. Here, let me show you the way. Stop! I said it must be done in this way. Here-that is right. Don't set the dishes down so hard : you'll break them; they are not made of iron.”
These, and words of like tenor, were addressed to the child, who, anxious to do right, yet so confused as often to misapprehend what was said to her, managed at length to complete her task.
“Now, sweep up the kitchen, and put things to rights. When you've done, come to me,” said Mrs. Munday, who now retired to the little sitting-room, where her husband was glancing over the paper, and Aggy engaged in studying her lesson,
On entering, she remarked, “ It's more trouble to teach a girl like this, than to do it yourself.”
Mr. Munday said nothing; but he had his own thoughts.
“Mother, I'm sleepy; I want to go to bed," said Fanny, younger by two or three years than Aggy.
“ Wait until Anna is done in the kitchen, and she will go up and stay with you. Anna,” Mrs. Munday called to her, "make haste; I want you to put Fanny to bed.”
In a few minutes Anna appeared, and, as diretted, went up stairs with Fanny.
“She looks tired. Hadn't you better tell her to go to bed also ?" suggested Mr. Munday.
“ To bed!” ejaculated Mrs. Munday, in a voice of surprise ; “ I've got something for her to do besides going to bed.”
Mr. Munday resumed the reading of his paper, and said no more. Fanny was soon asleep.
“Can't Anna go with me now? I'm afraid to go alone,” said Aggy, as the girl came down from the chamber.
“Yes, I suppose so. But you must go to sleep quickly. I've got something for Anna to do."
Mr. Munday sighed and moved himself uneasily in his chair. Ia half an hour Anna came down ; Aggy was just asleep. As she made her appearance the baby awoke and cried.
"Run up and hush the baby to sleep before he gets wide awake," said Mrs. Munday.
The weary child went as directed. In & little while the low murmur of her voice wae heard as she attempted to quiet the baby by singing a nursery ditty. How often had her mother's voice soothed her to sleep with the self-same melody. The babe stopped crying, and soon all was silent in the chamber. Nearly half an hour passed, during which Mrs. Munday was occupied in sewing.
"I do believe that girl has fallen asleep,“ said she, at length, letting her work drop in her map, and assuming a listening attitude.
"Anna," she called. But there was no answer.
Mrs. Munday started up, and ascended to her chamber. Mr. Munday was by her side as she entered the room. Sure enough Anna had fallen asleep, leaning over the bed where the infant lay.
“Poor motherless child !" said Mr. Munday in a voice of tender compassion, that reached the heart of his wife, and awakened there some womanly emotions.
“ Poor thing! I suppose she is tired out," said the latter. " She'd better go to bed."
So she awakened her, and told her to go up into the garret, where a bed had been made for her on the floor. Thither the child proceeded, and there wept herself again to sleep. In her dream that night she was in her own pleasant home; and she was still dreaming of her mother and
her home, when she was awakened by the 1 both hands across her forehead, lifted her sharp voice of Mrs. Munday, who told her wet eyes upward. There was no motion to get up quickly and come down, as it was of her wan lips, but Mr. Munday knew that broad daylight.
her heart, in its young sorrow, was raised “ You must kindle the fire, and get the to heaven. At this moment the kitchen kettle on in a jiffy.”
door opened, and Mr. Munday saw his Such was the order she received on pas wife enter. sing the door of Mrs. Munday,
“ Eye service l” said she, severely, as she We will not describe, particularly, the saw the position of Anna. “I don't like trials of this day for our poor little maid-of this. Not half over the floor yet! Why, all-work. Mrs. Munday was a hard mis what have you been doing?" tress. She had taken Anna as help, though The startled child bent quickly to her not with the purpose of overworking or weary task, and scrubbed with a new oppresslog her. But now that she had energy, imparted by fear. Mr. Munday some one to lighten her burdens and take turned, heart-sick from the window, and steps for her, the temptation to consult her entered their little sitting room as his wife own ease was very great. Less wearied came in from the kitchen. She met him than in days past, because relieved of scores with a pleasant smile, but he was grave of little matters about the house, the aggre and silent. gate of which had worn her down, she was “Don't you feel well ?” she enquired lifted somewhat above an appreciating with a look of concern. sympathy for the child, who, in thus “ Not very well,” he answered, evasively. relieving her, was herself over-tasked. “ Have you felt üll all day?" Instead of merely holding the baby for “ Yes; but I am heart-sick now.” Mrs. Munday, when it was awake, and “ Heart-sick! What has happened, Abr&would not be in its cradle, and doing for ham ?” her "odd turns," as first contemplated, so Mrs. Munday looked slightly alarmed. as to enable her the better to get through “One whom I thought full of human the work of the family, the former at once kindness, has been oppressive, and even began to play lady, and to require of Anna, cruel." not only the performance of a great deal of “Abraham ! what do you mean?" household labour, but to wait on her in “Perhaps my eyes deceived me!” he many instances where the service was answered; “ perhaps it was a dream, but I almost superfluous.
saw a sight just now that makes the tears When Mr. Munday came home to supper,
flow." he found his wife with a book in her hand. And as Mr. Munday spoke, he took his The table was set, the fire burning cheer
wife by the arm and led her out through fully, and the hearth swept up. The baby
the back door. was asleep in its cradle; and as Mrs. Mun “Look,” said he, “there is a poor day read, she now and then touched with motherless child, scarcely a year older than ker foot the rocker. This he observed our Aggy." through the window, without being seen. Anna had dropped her brush again, and He then glanced into the kitchen. The her pale face and tearful eyes were once tea-kettle had been taken from the fire, more uplifted. Was it only a delusion of the tea-pot was on the hearth, flanked on fancy, or did Mrs. Munday really see the one side by a plate of toast, and on the form of Mrs. Barrow stooping over her other by a dish containing some meat left suffering child, as striving to clasp her in from dinner, which had been warmed over. her shadowy arms ? These would have quickened his keen For a few moments the whole mind of appetite but for another vision.
Mrs. Munday was in a whirl of excitement. On her knees, in the middle of the room, Then stepping from the side of her huswas Anna, slowly, and evidently in a state band, she glided through the open door, of exhaustion, scrubbing the floor. Her and was in the kitchen ere Anna had time face, which happened to be turned towards to change her position. Frightened at him, looked wan and pale, and he saw at a being found idle again, the poor child glance her red eyes, and the tears upon her caught eagerly at the brush which lay cheeks. Wbile he yet gazed upon her, she upon the floor. In doing so she missed paused in her work, straightened her little her grasp, and weak and trembling from form with a wearied effort, and clasping exhaustion, fell forward, where she lay
motionless. When Mrs. Munday endea- not unfrequently in the habit of making voured to raise her up, she found her direct enquiries of christians as to the insensible.
extent of their personal exertions for the “ Poor,-poor child !” said Mr. Munday advancement of the Divine glory. He one tenderly, his voice quivering with emotion day called on an old lady, who had been a as he lifted her in his arms. He bore her member of a church of Christ for fifty up to the children's chamber, and laid her years, and asked her if she could recollect on their bed.
how many persons she had brought into “Not here,” said Mrs. Munday ; “up the christian church. She looked at him in her own room."
with astonishment, as if she thought he “She is one of God's children, and as had placed her in the situation of a minprecious in his sigbt as ours," almost ister of the gospel, and at length said that sobbed the husband, yet with a rebuking she did not recollect that she had introsternness in his voice; “she shall lie here!" duced any one individual into the church.
“Mrs. Munday was not naturally a cruel Could she, reader, think you, have been a woman, but she loved her own selfishly; ! very active, or a very happy christian? and the degree in which this is done, is the Yet how many, alas, are just like her! measure of disregard toward others. She Now let us look at a contrast. He next forgot, in her desire for service, that her called on a young lady, who had been a little servant was but a poor motherless member of the church but a very few years, child, thrust out from the parent nest, with and proposed to her the same question. all the tender longings of a child for love, With great diffidence and modesty she reand all its weakness and want of expe plied that she hoped she had been useful in rience. She failed to remember that in bringing many to the knowledge of the the sight of God all children are equally truth. She said that she had at present in precious.
her class four children, two boys and two But the scales fell from her eyes. She girls. One Sabbath morning she missed was rebuked, humbled, and repentant.
them from school, and on Monday she went "Anna must go back to her aunt," said in pursuit of the fugitives. On arriving at Mr. Munday, after the child had recovered their home, she found that their mother from the brief fainting fit, and calmness had been ill, and had died during the past was once more restored to the excited week, which had prevented the children household.
from attending the school on the Sabbath“She must remain," was the subdued day. She also found their father sitting by but firm answer. “I have dealt cruelly the fire-side, and when he found that she with her. Let me have an opportunity to was the teacher of his children, he rose repair the wrong sbe has suffered. I will and thanked her for having imparted to try to think of her as my own child. If I them the lessons they had brought home fail in that, the consciousness of her and taught to their dying mother, and mother's presence will save me from my which had been the means of sustaining first errror."
her mind in her departing moments. The And Anna did remain, to be Mrs. Mun young lady then said to the father, “How day's little maid-of-all-work. But her 1 is it that I never see you at a place of wortasks, though varied, were light. She was ship?" To which he replied, that he was never again overburdened; but treated very deaf, and could not hear the preacher. with a judicious kindness that won her The fact was,-the man's heart was wrong, affections, and made her ever willing to so that he did not love the truth, and was render service to the utmost of her ability. therefore unwilling to hear it.
The young lady promised him that if he
would come the foilowing Sabbath, she WHAT HAVE YOU DONE ?
would ask the minister to speak loud, and About fifteen years ago, a Baptist min would place him in a situation where he ister, now labouring successfully in the would be sure to hear. He promised to United States, was the zealous and labo be there, but failed in keeping his word. rious secretary of one of our public societies On the following morning our young in England. Considering the whole world teacher went in pursuit of her aged scholar. as his parish, wherever he went in his The same excuse would not do. She told almost incessant travels, he found some him she had at home a bearing-trumpet thing to do for his Great Master, and was which she would lend him, if he would