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before the reappearance of the hostess; and, unable to sit down, and keep himself quiet, he walked about the room, sometimes taking up some of the Indian curiosities with which the mantelpiece was plentifully covered, and sometimes twisting fringes, and pulling tassels, with no other purpose than to relieve himself in some degree of the annoyance of having so long to wait. Amongst other things which he did, he picked up a piece of paper from the floor. It was the same which the servant had brought to her mistress-a narrow strip now quite unfolded, on which was written in fair and beautiful characters, what he began to read without thinking for a moment about what he was doing. Even when he had recollected himself, he did not perceive anything particularly sacred in the narrow scroll; and if there had been, the mischief was done, for the words were already read, being written in a peculiarly clear and legible hand. They were simply these: "Remember the piano; and above all, find out his character and habits."

"The 'friend's' writing, I suppose," said Robert to himself; "and a very prudent and sagacious friend she seems to be. But I wonder who practises on the piano. The good lady, no doubt, has a young daughter, and the daughter takes music lessons-perhaps the friend is some decayed governess who teaches her. A charming feminine household! I wish they would make haste, however. This will never do for me. I ought to have been at the office half-an-hour ago."

Robert had looked at his watch, and was on the point of laying his hand on the bell, when the door opened, and the lady, looking a good deal reassured, again entered the room. She did not close the door after her; and as Robert glanced past her towards the landing of the stairs, he saw a tall slender figure, dressed for going out, glide hastily down.

This was no decayed governess, for the step was so light, the figure seemed almost to fly. Ah! Robert thought, he knew how it was the people kept a kind of day school, and this was one of the pupils. No wonder the piano should be looked upon as an objection. Still he must be mistaken, for if the gliding figure was that of a pupil, why did she not come

in, instead of going out? for it was still so early nobody could be leaving school at that hour. Well, he must leave the mystery of the gliding figure unsolved; only if there really was a school kept in the house, he ought to know it.

Acting upon this conviction, Robert ventured to say in the tone of inquiry, 'Your friend, then, is musical?" The lady replied in the affirmative, but rather shortly.



May I be so bold as to inquire whether you have many musical friends? "We have scarcely any friends at all in this country."

"You compel me to ask another question, which I hope you will not consider impertinent. The we you mention-are they numerous; in short, have you a large family or household?"


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'Only myself and one child."

"And your friend?"

"I said we had scarcely any friends." "In plain words then,-I don't wish to be impertinent, but in plain words do you keep a school?"

"Dreadful! no, indeed, I assure you, nothing of the kind."

"And all that I shall hear of the piano is the practising of your own child?"

"All will be the performance of my own child."

"Who has a governess sometimes, I suppose?" "Never."

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address more fully on the back of his card;
which being done, he presented it to the lady,
wished her good morning, and hastily left
the room.
On descending the stairs he
passed an open door, through which a
natural curiosity induced him to give one
hasty glance. The dreaded piano was not
there, but a scene of great comfort; the
room being fitted up with accommodations
of various kinds, well suited to habits of
greater repose, and even luxury, than ap-
peared consistent with the position of a
family reduced to the necessity of letting
their apartments for hire.

"I think, ma'am, the lodger will require a workshop more than a drawing-room," said a panting maid-servant, who had been assisting the porter and cabman up stairs with the heavy goods. "It's my belief that's machinery that we've been carrying up stairs, and I only hope it mayn't go off. There was something very much like a great gun; weren't there, porter?"


The porter nodded and winked; but having discharged his duty, and received his reward, went quietly away without committing himself.

Indeed, all the time that Robert was negotiating with the mistress of the house, he had felt himself in the presence of a gentlewoman; and whatever absurdity might in the opinion of other men, perhaps in his, have attached to her occasional fits of grandeur and dignity, he felt far too much sympathy with any one who had fallen from happier circumstances, and knew the pressure of such humiliating necessity, voluntarily to indulge his sense of the ridiculous, even for a single moment, at the expense of feelings already perhaps too severely wounded by what it was impossible to avoid. Thus, the young gentleman, "Oh, ma'am !" said Jane, "I don't think though pressing his inquiries about the he wants them stowed. It's my belief he'l! school a little too closely, managed to be always a-working of them. I should leave behind him rather an agreeable im-like to bargain for one thing, I know.” "What is that, Jane ?" asked the lady. "It is," replied the servant, "that neither grease nor gunpowder shall come near my drawing-room stove."

"I don't like this very much," said Mrs. Maitland, as she stood hesitating at the door of her own sitting-room, which opened into the hall. "I wish Mary was at home. There is, you know, Jane, the long attic nearly empty, we might let him stow some of his things away there."

"Grease and gunpowder!" repeated Mrs. Maitland, with an amount of horror which nearly choked her voice. can you mean, Jane?"


pression; while he, on his part, pursued his way without bestowing more thought upon the matter than amounted to a general feeling of satisfaction.

According to his wishes, expressed to Mrs. Maitland, the lady of the house,-it was announced to Robert that the apartments would be in perfect readiness on the Monday of the following week. The note which conveyed this intelligence, was written in that same beautiful hand which he had observed on the slip of paper; but whether it was penned by the friend-the child-or Mary, was still a question of difficult solution.

Robert thought himself a great simpleton to be feeling the slightest curiosity about these people, with so many heavy cares as he had pressing on his mind; and yet for this very reason, it was happy for him that he could find a momentary amusement in circumstances so trifling, and so entirely unconnected with the weightier business of his life.

At the appointed time, Robert arrived at his new lodgings, with an amount of luggage, if it might be called such, or rather of boxes, hampers, and packingcases, enough to have startled a less nervous person than the widow, who very reasonably trembled for her first-floor drawing-room.

"I mean," said the servant, "that my cousin once lived in a situation where the gentleman was always a making of skyrockets"—


Sky-rockets!" exclaimed the lady, "I never heard any thing so dreadful. I wish Mary was at home. What o'clock is it, Jane?"

"The Trinity Church has only just struck ten," replied Jane. "It wants four good hours yet to Miss Maitland's coming back."

The widow sighed. Her circumstances were becoming too much for her. She retired into her own sitting-room, and sank down amongst her cushions. To

make the matter worse, there was the lodger on the first floor, immediately overhead, thumping, and lumbering, and dragging about his heavy packages, as if Vulcan himself had come, and was preparing to set up his furnace in that very room! The widow lady suffered much as she sate, or rather reclined, on a sofa below. even shed a few tears, for the necessity was a very hard one to bear which had brought things to this pass.


"I am sure I thought the young man had been a gentleman," she said, partially rousing herself, as Jane, the servant, entered the room, coming, however, on some very slender pretext, her real purpose being to relieve her mind of the burden of a new idea.

"Oh, ma'am," the girl began again, "I think I know all about it now. The gentleman's got a balloon, and he'll be risin' some day from our sky-light."

"Go away, Jane," said Mrs. Maitland, "you really distress me too much. Besides which, you make too free a great deal. I shall tell Miss Maitland how you have been conducting yourself."

In justice to poor Jane, it must be stated that she made no pretensions whatever to the polish of a London bringingup. She was as completely a country girl, as if she had never trod the streets of that city. She had been first engaged, as country girls often are, by a newly married couple spending their honeymoon in a retired and picturesque scene in one of the midland counties, who thought it a great gain to them to bring the clean, handy, little maid, from her father's cottage to wait upon them in their new house in the city. But the girl soon lost her bloom and health under this great change, caught a fever, and was sent to a hospital. This was, unquestionably, the kindest step which could have been taken; but a sudden alteration took place in the business on which the newly married pair were dependent. The husband was appointed to a different post, and they went to live elsewhere.

The father of Jane had been written to on the commencement of her illness, but he was a poor shepherd tending his flocks upon far distant hills, and could neither read nor write. Besides which, his daughter's address, with the name of the hospital,

had been forgotten in the hurry of leaving London. Jane herself knew nothing of these proceedings, so that, when dismissed from the hospital, on her recovery, though still extremely weak, and entirely penniless, she repaired to the house of her master and mistress, but found it closed against her, in other words, filled with other occupants, who knew nothing, not even the name, and still less the destina. tion, of the family who had inhabited the house before.

Gentle reader, this is no exaggerated account of the circumstances of young country girls in London, as those who know anything of the internal history of its penitentiaries will bear the writer witness. She herself once found on the unfurnished floor of a deserted ginpalace, a dying girl who had reached that miserable end precisely in this manner, but so rapidly, that the fresh bloom of the country had scarcely left her cheeks, before consumption deepened it into a spot of burning crimson. This girl was released from her horrid den, and conveyed to her father's cottage in Kent, to spend what could only be a few days of her fast ebbing life. It was by no slight effort that this privilege was obtained for her-only by representing to the parish authorities at Clerkenwell that the expenses of her funeral would fall upon them, if she was not immediately removed.

But it is one of the great pleasures of an imaginary history, that champions can be raised up to defend the oppressed, and to shelter the neglected. Therefore, we beg the reader will go back with us, and see how this poor child, for Jane was then very young, stood at the corner of a street, crying-what else could she do? Only think! a good-looking, innocent, country girl, delicate from recent illness, crying at the corner of one of the busy streets of that great city!

We will not think what the reality of such a case would most likely be. It pleases us far better to believe, that a slender, grave-looking young lady was just then passing, that her delicate, white hand was instantly stretched out to the nearest policeman, plucking him by the sleeve, and that her silvery voice said to him, "Do come this way, and take this poor young creature under your care.”

The policeman turned round, as might have been expected, with the greatest possible indifference. He had seen hundreds of young girls crying at the corners of streets-half of them impostors-the other half-but no matter. He went mechanically, and began rather roughly to question the girl. In this instance it seemed as if he also had been struck with the reality of the distress he witnessed, for he listened to the relation of its cause with some degree of belief, as was manifest by his serious tone and earnest expression of


The young lady stood beside him all the while, looking alternately at the policeman and the girl. She, herself, implicitly believed every word of the story, but her purse was very low, and she was too young, she felt, to act the patroness in her own person.

young girl being received under their roof, where she was soon installed into office as servant of all work. A better servant it was universally acknowledged of her, never bore the burden of a whole house upon her shoulders; but Jane had notwithstanding, some strange ways of her own, and never could be brought to wear the polish which might have better recommended her to mistresses in general. She had a strange diction too, for she picked up a little from the baker, a little from the sweep, and a great deal from the washerwoman, as being the highest authority, and this she engrafted upon her mother tongue so as to be able to offer at this stage of her experience, about as odd a medly as ever poured itself forth in words from a fluent tongue. Jane liked to talk too, exceedingly; she liked wonder, and strange things, and was not inapt herself at making things a little more wonderful than there was any occasion for them to be. Thus the new lodger was to her a being of great mystery and astonishment, especially his luggage and appurtenances, in which she seemed to apprehend there might be concealed a world of explosive elements.

"I think," said she, "I know a poor woman who would take this girl as a lodger for a few days, and I believe I could bear the expense."

"Better be on your guard," said the policeman, "as to what you do. It is not for young ladies to be meddling in these matters. These cases are always suspicious, and nine chances to one the girl is an impostor."

"But there is the one chance," said Miss Maitland, for it was Jane's present young mistress who thus pleaded for her.

At last the policeman said, "I'll tell you what we'll do, Miss. There's a house of refuge up yonder in John-street; she'll" be perfectly safe there. And if so be that the girl proves to be an honest one, I'll let you know; for the difficulty is what to do with them when they are good girls, and nobody owns to them, as seems to be the case here. Come along a' me," said the policeman, drawing the girl's shawl around her, and leading her away very much like a culprit, though she was happily unconscious of the nods and winks which her appearance thus conducted, called forth on the part of the lowest class of spectators.

It is needless to go further into the details of this story, than to say that after exercising more strength of determination, and more courage and patience than is usual at her age, Miss Maitland succeeded in obtaining her mother's consent to the

Mrs. Maitland, always nervous and apprehensive, was easily worked upon by the reality of the girl's apprehensions, though often at the same time perfectly conscious of their unreasonableness. Thus the last charge of Miss Maitland, on going out of the house, was generally this-

And mind, Jane, be sure you don't flurry my mother. If you have any strange fears, keep them to yourself. If I find her ill when I return, I shall certainly blame you for making her so."

In the present instance, Jane had no shadow of doubt but that she should be blamed, and that rather severely, though she thought the strange gentleman ought in common justice to share the blame with her; for what with her own private feelings, which she often said were more than she knew how to bear; what with all the lifting, knocking, thumping, and tumbling; and what with all Jane's talk about sky-rockets and balloons, the lady of the house appeared to be in imminent danger of one of her worst "attacks, as they were called; so much so, that Jane, in an exceedingly repentant state of mind, went

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about on tiptoe, and even hushed the canary by throwing a duster over its cage. She had a great mind to ask the young gentleman not to make so much noise upstairs. "But, dear me, there was no knowing what to do for the best." Jane shed a tear or two in the kitchen, "all alone by herself," and wished from the bottom of her heart, she had never heard of such things as "sky-rockets and balloons."


In the midst of these melancholy reflections, Jane heard the outer door close. The gentleman had gone out. So far, so good, only nobody knew when he would come back, nor anything about dinner. This was all very bad. What would her young mistress say to such management?

Filled with wonder as well as with trouble of various kinds, Jane thought it safest to go upstairs, in the absence of the gentleman, and so ascertain for herself whether there was anything left behind in a particularly dangerous condition. Jane obeyed this impulse, entered the room, and to her astonishment saw that all things had been left almost as neatly adjusted, as if she had enjoyed the management of them herself. On the table lay a halfsheet of paper, on which was written in a large legible hand, such information as the new lodger thought the female members of the household might require.

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her, none could be so great as that of vexing her young mistress by causing annoyance or distress to her mother.

It was partly for his own convenience, that Robert had decided to trouble the family, no more than was necessary on this day. Indeed, for himself, he cared so little about dining, that he would at any time most willingly have eaten the simplest noonday meal in the city, so as to enjoy more leisure for his favourite pursuits in the after part of the day. On this occasion, he returned early, and pleased himself with the idea that, in a large and roomy apartment, he should find ample space for spreading about a collection of valuable architectural engravings which he was particularly fond of having always at hand.

As Robert drew near the door of his new residence, he observed that a lady was approaching from the opposite direction, but he would scarcely have thought again on the subject had she not looked rather earnestly at him, and then quickened her pace as if to reach the door before him. The figure was that of a tall and slender girl. The features he scarcely saw, for they were half concealed by a veil.

Seeing the lady advance so hastily towards the steps of Mrs. Maitland's door, Robert very naturally waited for her to enter first. He expected she would knock, but instead of that, she applied a small key to the door. It seemed not to fit the latch, or else her hand trembled very much, for the key appeared to hop about the key-hole in a most extraordinary manner.


"I beg your pardon," said Robert, ascending the steps, "but if you would allow me to knock, I think we should gain time."

A very pleasant, but a very blushing face was immediately turned towards him. "Thank you, sir," said a voice equally pleasant. "I cannot imagine what has happened to my key."

Robert saw plainly what had happened. The hand which held the key was trembling and quivering so that to use it steadily for any purpose was impossible. He lifted the knocker, the door was opened, both entered, but the young lady immediately disappeared. It was Mary Maitland, the widow's child, but not the less her friend.

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