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before the reappearance of the hostess ; | in, instead of going out ? for it was still and, unable to sit down, and keep himself so early nobody could be leaving school quiet, he walked about the room, some- at that hour. Well, he must leave the times taking up some of the Indian curio- mystery of the gliding figure unsolved ; sities with which the mantelpiece was only if there really was a school kept in plentifully covered, and sometimes twist- the house, he ought to know it. ing fringes, and pulling tassels, with no Acting upon this conviction, Robert other purpose than to relieve himself in ventured to say in the tone of inquiry, some degree of the annoyance of having so “Your friend, then, is musical ? ” long to wait. Amongst other things which The lady replied in the affirmative, but he did, he picked up a piece of paper from rather shortly. the floor. It was the same which the May I be so bold as to inquire servant had brought to her mistress—a whether you have many musical friends ? narrow strip now quite unfolded, on which “We have scarcely any friends at all was written in fair and beautiful characters, in this country.” what he began to read without thinking “ You compel me to ask another quesfor a moment about what he was doing. I tion, which I hope you will not consider Even when he had recollected himself, he impertinent. The we you mention-are did not perceive anything particularly they numerous ; in short, have you a large sacred in the narrow scroll; and if there family or household ?” had been, the mischief was done, for the Only myself and one child.” words were already read, being written in a " And your friend ?" peculiarly clear and legible hand. They “ I said we had scarcely any friends." were simply these :- " Remember the ' In plain words then, I don't wish to piano; and above all, find out his character be impertinent, but in plain words do you and habits."
keep a school ?” “ The “friend's' writing, I suppose,”
“Dreadful! no, indeed, I assure you, said Robert to himself; "and a very pru- nothing of the kind.” dent and sagacious friend she seems to be. “ And all that I shall hear of the piano But I wonder who practises on the piano. is the practising of your own child ? " The good lady, no doubt, has a young
“Alì will be the performance of my daughter, and the daughter takes music own child." lessons-perhaps the friend is some de- “Who has a governess sometimes, I cayed governess who teaches her. charming feminine household ! I wish "Never." they would make haste, however. This will Very well, then ; I am satisfied, if never do for me. I ought to have been at you are." the office half-an-hour ago."
“ I have nothing to object to of any Robert had looked at his watch, and importance." was on the point of laying his hand on the * And when can I enter upon my new bell, when the door opened, and the lady, home?" looking a good deal reassured, again “Next week, if you please, or even entered the room. She did not close the earlier. Everything is ready, so far as I door after her; and as Robert glanced past | know; but I can ascertain to-night when her towards the landing of the stairs, Mary comes home, and drop you a line if he saw a tall slender figure, dressed for you will favour me with your address." going out, glide hastily down.
“ Mary,” said Robert to himself; “this This was no decayed governess, for the is a new character introduced into the plot. step was so light, the figure seemed almost There is the friend, and the child, and this to fly. Ah! Robert thought, he knew | Mary; and yet the family are only how it was—the people kept a kind of two. Well, that is of no consequence to day school, and this was one of the pupils. me. There may be fifty of them for anyNo wonder the piano should be looked thing I care, so long as they do not keep upon as an objection. Still he must be a school, and all practise on the piano." mistaken, for if the gliding figure was While these thoughts were passing that of a pupil, why did she not come through Robert's mind, he was writing his
A suppose ? "
address more fully on the back of his card ; At the appointed time, Robert arrived which being done, he presented it to the lady, at his new lodgings, with an amount of wished her good morning, and hastily left luggage, if it might be called such, or the room. On descending the stairs he rather of boxes, hampers, and packingpassed an open door, through which a cases, enough to have startled a less nernatural curiosity induced him to give one vous person than the widow, who very hasty glance. The dreaded piano was not reasonably trembled for her first-floor drawthere, but a scene of great comfort ; the ing-room. room being fitted up with accommodations “I think, ma'am, the lodger will require of various kinds, well suited to habits of a workshop more than a drawing-room," greater repose, and even luxury, than ap- said a panting maid-servant, who had been peared consistent with the position of a assisting the porter and cabman up stairs family reduced to the necessity of letting i with the heavy goods. “ It's my belief their apartments for hire.
that's machinery that we've been carIndeed, all the time that Robert was ne- rying up stairs, and I only hope it mayn't gotiating with the mistress of the house, he go off. There was something very much had felt himself in the presence of a gentle like a great gun ; weren't there, porter ?” woman; and whatever absurdity might in The porter nodded and winked; but the opinion of other men, perhaps in his, having discharged his duty, and received have attached to her occasional fits of his reward, went quietly away without comgrandeur and dignity, he felt far too much mitting himself. sympathy with any one who had fallen “I don't like this very much,” said Mrs. from happier circumstances, and knew the Maitland, as she stood hesitating at the pressure of such humiliating necessity, door of her own sitting-room, which opened voluntarily to indulge his sense of the ri- into the hall. “I wish Mary was at home. diculous, even for a single moment, at the There is, you know, Jane, the long attic expense of feelings already perhaps too nearly empty, we might let him stow some severely wounded by what it was impossible of his things away there." 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.” pression; while he, on his part, pursued his “What is that, Jane ?”' asked the lady. way without bestowing more thought upon “ It is,” replied the servant, the matter than amounted to a general neither grease nor gunpowder shall come feeling of satisfaction.
near my drawing-room stove.” According to his wishes, expressed to “ Grease and gunpowder!" repeated Mrs. Maitland, the lady of the house,-it Mrs. Maitland, with an amount of horror was announced to Robert that the apart- which nearly choked her voice.
" What ments would be in perfect readiness on can you mean, Jane ?" the Monday of the following week. The “I mean," said the servant, note which conveyed this intelligence, was cousin once lived in a situation where the written in that same beautiful hand which gentleman was always a making of skyhe had observed on the slip of paper ; but rockets”whether it was penned by the friend-the Sky-rockets !” exclaimed the lady, “I child—or Mary, was still a question of never heard any thing so dreadful. I wish difficult solution.
Mary was at home. What o'clock is it, Robert thought himself a great simple- Jane ?” ton to be feeling the slightest curiosity “ The Trinity Church has only just about these people, with so many heavy struck ten,” replied Jane.“ It wants four cares as he had pressing on his mind; and good hours yet to Miss Maitland's coming yet for this very reason, it was happy for back.” him that he could find a momentary amuse- The widow sighed. Her circumstances ment in circumstances so trifling, and so i were becoming too much for her. She entirely unconnected with the weightier | retired into her own sitting-room, and business of his life.
sank down amongst her cushions. To
make the matter worse, there was the had been forgotten in the hurry of leaving lodger on the first filoor, immediately over- London. Jane herself knew nothing of head, thumping, and lumbering, and drag- these proceedings, so that, when dismissed ging about his heavy packages, as if | from the hospital, on her recovery, though Vulcan himself had come, and was prepar- still extremely weak, and entirely penni. ing to set up his furnace in that very room! | less, she repaired to the house of her
The widow lady suffered much as she sate, master and mistress, but found it closed or rather reclined, on a sofa below. She against her, in other words, filled with even shed a few tears, for the necessity was other occupants, who knew, nothing, not a very hard one to bear which had brought even the name, and still less the destina. things to this pass.
tion, of the family who had inhabited the “I am sure I thought the young man house before. had been a gentleman,” she said, partially Gentle reader, this is no exaggerated rousing herself, as Jane, the servant, en- account of the circumstances of young tered the room, coming, however, on some country girls in London, as those who very slender pretext, her real purpose know anything of the internal history being to relieve her mind of the burden of of its penitentiaries will bear the writer a new idea.
witness. She herself once found on the “Oh, ma'am,” the girl began again, “I unfurnished floor of a deserted ginthink I know all about it now. The gen- palace, a dying girl who had reached that tleman's got a balloon, and he'll be risin' miserable end precisely in this mansome day from our sky-light.”
ner, but so rapidly, that the fresh bloom “Go away, Jane,” said Mrs. Maitland, of the country had scarcely left her cheeks, "you really distress me too much. Besides before consumption deepened it into a which, you make too free a great deal. I spot of burning crimson. This girl was shall tell Miss Maitland how you have released from her horrid den, and conbeen conducting yourself.”
veyed to her father's cottage in Kent, to In justice to poor Jane, it must be spend what could only be a few days of stated that she made no pretensions what her fast ebbing life. 'It was by no slight ever to the polish of a London bringing- effort that this privilege was obtained for
She was as completely a country her-only by representing to the parish girl, as if she had never trod the streets authorities at Clerkenwell that the exof that city. She had been first engaged, penses of her funeral would fall upon as country girls often are, by a newly them, if she was not immediately removed. married couple spending their honeymoon But it is one of the great pleasures of in a retired and picturesque scene in one an imaginary history, that champions can of the midland counties, who thought it a be raised up to defend the oppressed, and great gain to them to bring the clean, to shelter the neglected. Therefore, we handy, little maid, from her father's cot- beg the reader will go back with us, and tage to wait upon them in their new house see how this poor child, for Jane was then in the city. But the girl soon lost her | very young, stood at the corner of a street, bloom and health under this great change, crying—what else could she do ? Only caught a fever, and was sent to a hospi- think! a good-looking, innocent, country tal. This was, unquestionably, the kindest girl, delicate from recent illness, crying step which could have been taken ; but a at the corner of one of the busy streets sudden alteration took place in the busi- of that great city! ness on which the newly married pair We will not think what the reality of were dependent. The husband was ap- such a case would most likely be. It pointed to a different post, and they went pleases us far better to believe, that a to live elsewhere.
slender, grave-looking young lady was The father of Jane had been written to just then passing, that her delicate, white on the commencement of her illness, but hand was instantly stretched out to the he was a poor shepherd tending his flocks nearest policeman, plucking him by the upon far distant hills, and could neither sleeve, and that her silvery voice said to read nor write. Besides which, his daugh- him, " Do come this way, and take this ter's address, with the name of the hospital, poor young creature under your care."
The policeman turned round, as might young girl being received under their roof, have been expected, with the greatest where she was soon installed into office possible indifference. He had seen hun- as servant of all work. A better servant dreds of young girls crying at the corners it was universally acknowledged of her, of streets-half of them impostors--the never bore the burden of a whole house other half--but no matter. He went upon her shoulders; but Jane had notmechanically, and began rather roughly withstanding, some strange ways of her to question the girl. In this instance it own, and never could be brought to wear seemed as if he also had been struck with the polish which might have better recomthe reality of the distress he witnessed, for mended her to mistresses in general. She he listened to the relation of its cause with had a strange diction too, for she picked some degree of belief, as was manifest by up a little from the baker, a little from his serious tone and earnest expression of the sweep, and a great deal from the countenance.
washerwoman, as being the highest authoThe young lady stood beside him all the rity, and this she engrafted upon her while, looking alternately at the police- mother tongue so as to be able to offer man and the girl. She, herself, impli- at this stage her experience, about as citly believed every word of the story, but odd a medly as ever poured itself forth in her purse was very low, and she was too words from a fluent tongue. Jane liked young, she felt, to act the patroness in her to talk too, exceedingly; she liked wonder, own person.
and strange things, and was not inapt “I think,” said she, “I know a poor herself at making things a little more woman who would take this girl as wonderful than there was any occasion for lodger for a few days, and I believe I could them to be. Thus the new lodger was bear the expense.”
to her a being of great mystery and “Better be on your guard,” said the astonishment, especially his luggage and policeman, “as to what you do. It is not appurtenances, in which she seemed to apfor young ladies to be meddling in these prehend there might be concealed a world matters. These cases are always suspi- of explosive elements. cious, and nine chances to one the girl Mrs. Maitland, always nervous and is an impostor.”
apprehensive, was easily worked upon by “ But there is the one chance," said the reality of the girl's apprehensions, Miss Maitland, for it was Jane's present though often at the same time perfectly young mistress who thus pleaded for her. conscious of their unreasonableness. Thus
At last the policeman said, “I'll tell the last charge of Miss Maitland, on going you what we'll do, Miss. There's a house out of the house, was generally this-of refuge up yonder in John-street; she'll “ And mind, Jane,—be sure you don't be perfectly safe there. And if so be that flurry my mother. If you have any strange the girl proves to be an honest one, I'll fears, keep them to yourself. If I find let you know; for the difficulty is what her ill when I return, I shall certainly. to do with them when they are good girls, blame you for making her so.” and nobody owns to them, as seems to be In the present instance, Jane had no shathe case here. Come along a' me,” said dow of doubt but that she should be blamed, the policeman, drawing the girl's shawl and that rather severely, though she thought around her, and leading her away very the strange gentleman ought in common much like a culprit, though she was justice to share the blame with her; for what happily unconscious of the nods and winks with her own private feelings, which she which her appearance thus conducted, often said were more than she knew how called forth on the part of the lowest to bear; what with all the lifting, knockclass of spectators.
ing, thumping, and tumbling; and what It is needless to go further into the with all Jane's talk about sky-rockets details of this story, than to say that after and balloons, the lady of the house apexercising more strength of determination, peared to be in imminent danger of one and more courage and patience than is of her worst attacks, as they were usual at her age, Miss Maitland succeeded called; so much so, that Jane, in an exin obtaining her mother's consent to the ceedingly repentant state of mind, went
about on tiptoe, and even hushed the her, none could be so great as that of canary by throwing a duster over its cage. | vexing her young mistress by causing She had a great mind to ask the young annoyance or distress to her mother. gentleman not to make so much noise It was partly for his own convenience, upstairs. “But, dear me, there was no that Robert had decided to trouble the knowing what to do for the best.”. So family, no more than was necessary on Jane shed a tear or two in the kitchen, this day. Indeed, for himself, he cared so “all alone by herself," and wished from little about dining, that he would at the bottom of her heart, she had never any time most willingly have eaten the heard of such things as “sky-rockets and simplest noonday meal in the city, so as to balloons."
enjoy more leisure for his favourite purIn the midst of these melancholy reflec- suits in the after part of the day. On tions, Jane heard the outer door close. this occasion, he returned early, and The gentleman had gone out. So far, so pleased himself with the idea that, in a good, only nobody knew when he would large and roomy apartment, he should find come back, nor anything about dinner. ample space for spreading about a colThis was all very bad. What would her lection of valuable architectural engravings young mistress say to such management? which he was particularly fond of having
Filled with wonder as well as with | always at hand. trouble of various kinds, Jane thought it As Robert drew near the door of his safest to go upstairs, in the absence of the new residence, he observed that a lady gentleman, and so ascertain for herself was approaching from the opposite direcwhether there was anything left behind in tion, but he would scarcely have thought a particularly dangerous condition. Jane again on the subject had she not looked obeyed this impulse, entered the room, rather earnestly at him, and then quickand to her astonishment saw that all things ened her pace as if to reach the door had been left almost as neatly adjusted, as before him. The figure was that of a tall if she had enjoyed the management of and slender girl. The features he scarcely them herself. On the table lay a half
for they were half concealed by a veil. sheet of paper, on which was written in a Seeing the lady advance so hastily large legible hand, such information as towards the steps of Mrs. Maitland's door, the new lodger thought the female mem- Robert very naturally waited for her to bers of the household might require. enter first. He expected she would knock,
“ This was very thoughtful of him,” but instead of that, she applied a small Mrs. Maitland said, when Jane had taken key to the door. It seemed not to fit the the paper to her in a fit of astonishment, latch, or else her hand trembled very not being herself equal to the task of much, for the key appeared to hop about deciphering those, to her, mysterious the key-hole in a most extraordinary looking characters. “ This looks well,” manner. Mrs. Maitland continued, “ for so young “I beg your pardon,” said Robert,
But it pleases me still better to ascending the steps, “ but if you would know that to-day he does not return to allow me to knock, I think we should gain dinner, for really there is no preparation time." for him, I believe—is there Jane ?"
A very pleasant, but a very blushing “Not in the least,” replied Jane, her face was immediately turned towards him. eyes opening wide at the thought of a “ Thank you, sir,” said a voice equally new alarm.
pleasant. “I cannot imagine what has “ Well, don't look in that way,” said happened to my key." her mistress. “You frighten me to death. Robert saw plainly what had happened. It is all quite right,-at least it will be so The hand which held the key was trembling at two o'clock, when Mary returns." and quivering so that to use it steadily
So Jane retreated without more words for any purpose was impossible. He lifted to the depths of her own department, where the knocker, the door was opened, both she worked away with double alacrity to entered, but the young lady immediately make up for a little want of duty; for of disappeared. It was Mary Maitland, the all the terrors which at any time assailed widow's child, but not the less her friend.