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THE STORY OF A CITY WAIF.
"Lfenie," "Nobody's Darling" "The City and tht Castle," etc
SBith Itoelb* dfttlt-pajje Ulrtstraitxma ij) ^C-
JAMES H. EARLE, PUBLISHER,
178 WASHINGTON STREET.
i. "NO WORK" ...... 9
II. A DESPERATE PURPOSE . . . .17
III. WORSTED IN THE BATTLE . . .25
IV. AN UNEXPECTED CHAMPION . . .29
v. BESS BRANKER'S TEA-PARTY . . .39
VI. CONFIDENCES 49
VII. BESS BRANKER GIVES AN OPINION . . 59
vin. THE PRODIGAL'S RETURN . . .65
IX. NO NAME 73
X. BESS AND DOT 77
XI. WHAT ANOTHER DECEMBER BROUGHT . 85
xii. "MOTHER NO MOTHER" . . . . 95
xin. DOT'S FANCIES 105
XIV. SUMMERS . . . . . 113
XV. DOT'S FIRST PRAYER . . . .123
XVI. LITTLE JOEY ENTERS IN . . . . 12 J
XVII. NEVER ALL UP WHILE JESUS LIVES . . 135
XVIII. "SUMMAT IN IT" FOR BESS . . . 145
XIX. BESS DOES "WHAT SHE COULD " . . 155
XX. THE DARK HOURS BEFORE THE DAWN . 167
XXI. GOD'S ANGEL SENT AT LAST . . .175
XXII. A PLACE OF REFUGE . . . .185
XXIII. AT HOME 193
XXIV. OUT INTO THE WORLD . . . .203
XXV. A MEETING AND A PARTING , .213
XXVI. BLESSED AND A BLESSING . ... 223
"DOT," A CITY WAIF . . Frontispiece i
STAY THERE 44
DOROTHY ........ 50
AND DOT 71
KNOCK .... ... 86
A LITTLE COLD HAND . . . . . IIO
"PLEASE T' HELP ME" 124
"JOEY is SAFE HOME" ..... 135
"i WOULDN'T BE WI'OUT THEE FOR TH' WORLD" 140
"HERE'S A GO, DOT" 179
SOMEBODY ELSE'S BLESSING . 195
BACK TO THE OLD DAYS . . 233
" TV T O work for you to-day."
The words were spoken by a burly,
red-faced man, to a pale, miserable-looking woman,
who stood leaning heavily against the counter of
a dark cellar under a large showy shop, which
stood in a dingy yet busy street of a manufactur-
ing town; a shop in whose crowded windows
ready-made garments were ticketed, at prices for
which, as the customers said, "you could not
make them yourselves, counting nothing for the
work, let alone for the sewings."
Ah ! those poor, pale, weary-looking women,
standing with their bundles at that cellar-counter,
could have told how good reason there was that
their employers, buying stuff at wholesale prices,
and cutting from the piece, could afford to sell
those garments at scarcely more than the retail
cost of material, " counting nothing for the work
l( No work for you to-day."
He threw down, as he spoke, a handful of
coppers before her, and turned briskly away to
attend to the others who stood waiting.
No work ! It mattered little, one would think,
to one so evidently unfit to do it as the poor pale
creature to whom the words were addressed a
tall slight woman, whose scanty garments hung
loosely round a pitifully attenuated frame ; whose
dark eyes, sunken deep, seemed yet unnaturally
large, in contrast with the white, wasted face ;
whose breath came in such short, laboured gasps
through the dry bloodless lips.
Mattered little ! Ah, the words rung a very
death-knell in her ears. Not her own only (hat
had mattered little, for though she held no hope
of home and rest beyond the grave, such a life as
had been hers for long must needs rob death of
half its terrors but her child's ; the little helpless
heritrix of all her sin and sorrow, between whom
"No Work." ii
and starvation, or the still more dreaded pauper-
lot, interposed only her weak arm.
She did not offer to take up the pittance flung
to her, the price of long days of unremitting toil,
of very life itself, pressed slowly, surely out did
not move, but stood like one stunned.
No work I Then she and Dot must starve at
last; or worse, the landlady would fulfil her
threat and turn them out into the streets; or
worse still, send for the relieving officer when she
was too weak to resist, and he would take them
to the workhouse, where they would part her and
Dot. Too exhausted after the, to her, long
walk she had had, coughing at every step, in the
bleak December rain to think clearly, she could
only feel all this, and helplessly, hopelessly gaze
at the great wave of fate, striven against so long
in the heroism of mother-love, approaching to
overwhelm her and tear Dot from her arms.
At last she was startled by the raised voice of
the paymaster, who, glancing up and seeing her
still standing where he had left her, called out
11 What are you waiting there for ? Your
money's right, and your room is wanted. Go 1 "
She roused then and took a step towards him,
her trembling hands clasped, her eyes full not of
tears, but of something sadder still.
" For work," she said ; " I'm waiting for work !
Oh, sir, do give me some ! I'll do it better and
quicker this time, I will indeed, and and for
what you are pleased to give me."
" And that'll be nothing," he said. " Can't put
up with no more of yer boggling. Come, be
" It was the cough, sir, that made my eyes so
bad. I'm better now, and "
In sad denial of her words a paroxysm of
coughing interrupted them, and shook her frail
form like a reed.
" Looks like it," said the man, curtly. " No,
it's no use ; can't have good work spoiled."
"But, sir," she pleaded as soon as she could
speak, " if you don't give us work we must starve,
my little child and I. We're alone in the wide
world, sir "
"No Work." 13
' Oh, there, shut up ! none o' that cant. There's
the work'us ; you can go there, I s'pose ? "
" I'd die first," she answered, with passionate
bitterness ; " for they'd take my child from me,
my tender darling that is more than life to me.
Ay, I'd die and worse," she added, a terrible
gleam coming into her eye. She paused a moment,
a strong shudder shook her frame, and then,
clasping her hands as if in terror, she pleaded
once more " Sir, for God's sake, save me give
me work ! "
" I tell you I can't and won't," was the angry
reply. " What d'yer mean by bothering like this,
when you've got yer answer ? Be off with you, I
say, and sharp."
She fixed a look upon him before which,
hardened as he was by wont of resistance of pity
and pleadings, by familiarity with suffering and
need, he cowered uneasily, and which haunted
him for many a day.
" Then a just God will hold you guilty of what
you diive me to," she said, in a loud hissing
whisper ; and turning, strode out of the place, in
the forgetfulness of passion leaving her hard-
earned coppers on the counter.
" Independent, it seems," said the man, with an
uneasy laugh, making a motion as if to take up
But from the group of pale-faced, heavy-eyed
women, who had been listless spectators of the
too familiar scene, one, a cripple, pressed forward.
" She's forgot it, poor soul," she said ; and,
gathering up the coppers, hobbled after her with
what haste she could.
She need not have hurried. The false strength
of passion had soon exhausted itself. The poor
woman was leaning, breathless and gasping from
her reckless ascent of the cellar-steps, against a
wall a few yards off; but something more than
the pallor of physical exhaustion was on her
white, set face ; the light as of some awful
purpose gleamed in her wild fixed eyes.
Her pursuer had to touch her to gain her
" Tha's left thi money," she said, tendering it.
" Eh, poor soul, but aw'm sorry for thee. But
"No Work." 15
dunno thee look loike that," as the dark eyes turned
blankly upon her. " There's One as cares for thee
and t' choild. Dost know Him, my poor lass ? "
The girl she was quite young, although so wan
and worn shook her head. " Nobody cares for
me," she said.
" Eh, tha'rt wrong ! tha'rt wrong ! " answered
the cripple, with a beaming face. "Aw thowt
t'same once, when aw was just as needy and
lonely as thysen. But aw know better now.
There's One as cares, my lass ; One as loves and
One as helps, bless His name ! Ah ! tha' doesna'
believe it ? " in a tone of infinite regret ; " well,
aw was loth to my sen. And aw conna speak
loike her as He sent to tell't me ; and tha's not
fit to stand i' this cold and wet, if aw could. But
si thee, lass," and she drew from her bosom a
tastefully painted card, carefully wrapped in paper.
" Si thee to this. Nay," with sudden resolution
folding it in its wrapper again, " but aw'll give
it thee. Tak' it home, and talc' Him as said
those words at His'n, as aw did, and ye'll foind
Him true, bless His name ! as aw've done."
1 6 Dot.
Passively the dazed, exhausted creature took
the card and coppers, with hardly a word of
thanks never to notice that to the latter were
added a few of the cripple's own hard-earned and
sorely needed coins never even to suspect that
any sacrifice had been made in the gift of that
card treasured memorial of the happy day when
the light of heaven first shone upon a dark path
and darker heart, and of the gentle messenger
through whom it came.
But the giver needed not her thanks. She went
her painful way with tears in her eyes, but a great
joy at her heart the joy of accepted sacrifice of
love poured back in overflowing measure from a
Divine heart to her own. And against the story
of that deed in the recording angel's book above
stands decreed "an exceeding great reward."
For if the great pity of a woman's heart had
prompted the gift of pence at a cost of cold and
hunger, the great love of a redeemed soul had
compelled the offering of that one treasure of
a bare, beautiless life.
A DESPERATE PURPOSE.
TV/T ECHANICALLY our poor friend put
* * A coppers and card, uncounted and unread,
into her pocket, and started on her homeward
way, her face wearing the same fixed look, half
terrified, half desperate. It was evident that the
cripple's kindly and cheering words had fallen on
her outward ear alone.
Slowly and painfully she made her way into
a district where the streets grew narrow and
shabbier, the air thick with smoke and gutter-
reek. Ever and anon she stopped, partly to gain
breath, partly to -hold muttered converse with
herself; for her pale lips moved, and her thin
hands worked, though no words were audible.
Yet she would start and look round with a guilty,
frightened look, and press on again, with such
haste as she could, on her weary way.
1 8 Dot.
At last she sat down suddenly upon the steps
of a deserted warehouse in a narrow gloomy
street. " I'll settle it one way or other before I
stir from this," she said aloud, and burying her
face in her hands, sat motionless as stone.
One or two people who went by glanced care-
lessly at her, and passed on, thinking, if they
thought at all, that she was asleep or drunk.
Asleep ! And the while a battle such as fiends
and angels watch with breathless interest was
being fought in that poor soul 1
She looked up at last, her white face and wild
dark eyes terrible in their anguish and despair.
" I will do it," she said again aloud. " Ay, I will
do it ! It will be better for her surely better for
her. For if they part us there, it will not hurt
her. No hunger there, no pain, no crying not
even for a lost mother ! ' Nothing that defileth ! '
Ah me, how plain the words come back ! No
dirt, no rough coarse ways, no sin, no shame !
Oh, my lamb, my innocent ! what better can your
poor mother do than send you there, even if she
loses her own soul in doing it ? "
A Desperate Purpose. 19
She rose, the energy of a fixed purpose appa-
rent in her feeble steps, and walked steadily back
by the way she had come until she reached a
druggist's shop, before which one of her longest
pauses had been made.
She made no pause now ; her end, and the
means to that end, and the way to obtain that
means, had all been settled in her mind beforehand.
She walked straight into the shop, holding her
hand to her face and rocking herself to and fro.
" I want a drop of laudanum, if you please, sir,"
she said to the shopman. " I am almost worn
out with pain, and it is the only thing that gives
" How much ? " was the half-suspicious
"Well, sir, just the worth of a few pence,
which I can ill afford to spare; but what with
loss of rest and pain I cannot do the work that is
bread and shelter to me and my little one. But I
should like a goodish drop that would last a bit,
sir, for I live a good way off, and time and strength
are money to me, that needs both sorely."
" You understand its nature, I suppose use it
" Well, sir, mostly, though I have taken a drop
or two occasionally at night, to make me sleep.
There's no harm in that, I know, having had a
relative who took it regularly."
" No harm, so as you don't take more than ten
or twelve drops, and are careful to drop it exactly
but no good. Better keep to the outside use ;
and mind and put it out of the child's reach," said
the druggist, quite set at rest by the woman's
apparent simplicity, and wondering much at the
contrast her speech and manner afforded to the
wretchedness of her appearance. " Have you a
" Indeed, sir, I have not. I did not think of it
when I came out ; maybe you have an old one of
some sort you can put it in ? "
" I have plenty of bottles, but I usually charge
for them. However " He turned away and
filled a small phial. " Be sure you keep it out of
the child's way," he said again, as he handed her
the bottle and took the demanded payment only
A Desperate Purpose. 21
half the real charge ; for he pitied and thought to
help the poor woman, whose suffering and need
were so evident. So blind and blundering are
we in our kindliest purposes.
With a muttered "Yes, sir; thank you, sir,"
she hurried from the shop, and turned homeward
once more, clenching the fatal phial tightly in her
hand and facing a driving shower of sleet.
Can we wonder much at the terrible resolution
to which that poor thing had come ? The work
upon the wretched proceeds of which she had
hitherto kept body and soul together refused her ;
without a friend or a helper, as she thought, in
the wide world ; with rent owing for the miserable
room she tenanted ; with the more than possibi-
lity of being turned out into the cold, pitiless
streets ; with the only refuge open to her, open
only on a condition more terrible than death itself
that of severance from the child she loved with
all the fervour of a passionate nature, all the con-
centrated intensity of a lonely and embittered
heart ; with the terror of leaving that child, as her
rapidly failing strength told her she soon must
leave her, a helpless waif on the troubled, unclean
sea of city life, to become, too surely, that from
which she, sunk and wretched as she was, shrank
with loathing ; with bodily powers exhausted by
privation and disease is it wonder, I ask, that
the grave, with her darling folded safe on her
breast for evermore, seemed a welcome refuge,
beyond whose quiet rest her wearied spirit had
scarce energy to look ; that, taking the form of a
tenderly-cradled sleep, murder seemed the best
gift her fettered mother-love could give suicide
scarce a crime that a merciful and righteous Being
could punish ?
But to understand her present position, the
strength of its misery, the depth of its degrada-
tion, we must know something of her past. Out-
cast and waif as she was now, she had been
tenderly reared. The only daughter of a small
but well-to-do farmer, her childhood and youth
had been spent amidst the fields and woods of a
breezy upland county. The idol of her doting
parents, she had been brought up as they, in
their fond and foolish pride in a grace and beauty
A Desperate Purpose. 23
and refinement of taste unusual in her class,
declared "like a lady." The weeds of her cha-
racter, vanity, and ambition, and self-will, had
been fostered rather than checked by their blindly
admiring affection. And when temptation, strong
temptation, came to her, they, simple folk, full of
the loyalty of old-time feudal faith, were proud
and pleased that the Squire's son should be quite
taken with their fair Alice, and dreamed not of
peril till their eyes were opened by gossiping
tongues. Too late ! Their fears and tears, their
entreaties and commands, were alike disregarded.
A girl whose nature has never been brought into
subjection to authority, principle, or affection, in
the simple rights and wrongs of every-day life, is
not likely to yield her will when the force and
glamour of a young, fervent heart's first passion-
dream is upon her.
Alice did not, to her bitter cost. Young,
romantic, and unsophisticated, she went scornful
and smiling to her fate, finding, where her pure
mind, passionate heart, and blind faith had looked
for an Eden of bliss, a pit of ruin and shame.
WORSTED IN THE BATTLE.
words will tell how, step by step, Alice
had come to be what she was. A fevered
passion-dream, whose every pleasure had a sting ;
a sharp and bitter awakening; a sad reluctant
letting go of hope; a lingering death of trust;
and then, the crowning woe of all, desertion
and, with it, sickness almost unto death. Alas I
alas ! a common and an oft-told tale I
Alice recovered, to find herself, with a helpless
babe and tarnished fame, alone in the wide world.
Her long sickness amidst expensive surroundings
had almost exhausted the money she possesced.
Too proud, even in her loneliness and weakness,
to beg the forgiveness and aid of parents whose
warnings and commands she had contemned, and
to brook the thought of returning, a mark for the
finger of scorn, to the peaceful home of her youth
too pure-minded even in her degradation to
touch more of the wages of shame, she fled, as
soon as her strength permitted, from the place
where her too evident position exposed her to
temptation and insult, to a large manufacturing
town, where, under an assumed name, she hoped
to hide her identity, and maintain herself and her
It was easy to do the former, but ah ! how
pitifully hard for a weak lonely woman, without
skill, without recommendation, and burdened with
an infant, to do the latter. She got work indeed,
at last, after long effort, and after having parted
with almost every article of value she possessed,
But such work ! and such pay ! Want of skill
precluded her taking any but the coarsest and
plainest; want of strength soon became an
obstacle to her accomplishing enough of that to
supply the barest needs of life. The child of the
breezy upland farm would probably, under any
conditions, have drooped in city air; but in the
ever closer and dingier rooms, in the ever lower
Worsted in tJic Battle. 27
and more crowded streets, which her narrowing
means forced her to occupy, Alice withered like a
A few weeks before our story begins, she had
made her last possible move while she retained
anything like a shelter for herself and her child.
It was to a miserable garret at the top of a
crowded lodging-house, in a narrow and filthy
court in one of the lowest parts of the city.
There, sickened with despair, and with the
horrible things she was obliged lo see and hear,
she had been at last worsted in the hopeless
struggle. Her illness had frightfully increased ;
her rent had fallen into arrears; her child, to
whom at all cost she had hitherto given bread at
will, had been pinched with hunger. For though,
with the desperate heroism of mother-love, she
toiled on and on, her trembling fingers and failing
eyes almost refused their functions, and three
days scarcely saw the task of one achieved.
What was the result, we have seen.
And all through this dreary downward course
did not Alice's pride give way ? Did not her
heart, yearning over her own child's daily suffer-
ing, admonish her how her parents, once so fond
and proud, were yearning over theirs ? Oh yes,
often and often at first; and once, when her
darling was sick and suffering dyin<?. she feared,
for want of pure air and needful em lies and
food, she broke down and wrote a sad, imploring
letter, telling of her bitter need, and pleading for
forgiveness and help for her innocent darling's
sake wrote, and waited day by day for answer;
and, when none came, in bitter hopelessness
steeled herself to suffer and be strong. Either
they were dead, heart-broken by her fall, or
And did she not then turn to Him who, when
father and mother forsake, forsakes not (Psalm
xxxvii. 10), who glories in the title of "helper of
him that hath no helper"? (Psalm Ixxii. 12.)
Alas! no, for she knew Him not.
AN UNEXPECTED CHAMPION.
T T ER terrible purpose settled, and the means
* to its execution procured, a dull calm,
intensified by physical exhaustion, fell upon poor
Alice's mind. The strained, terrified expression
of her face gave place to one of utter sadness ;
and as she feebly dragged her painful way through
the blinding storm, tears mingled with the icy
raindrops that coursed down her cheeks, and ever
and anon a low, bitter sob heaved her breast.
She was dimly conscious of an unutterable pity
for herself so young, so wretched, so utterly
forsaken ; of a strong revulsion against the fate
to which she had doomed herself; of a helpless,
passionate longing for bodily comfort, rest
warmth, and kindness. The hot glow rising
through a grating from a baker's oven, laden with
the fragrant odour of new-baked bread, gave this
longing definite and practical form. The poor
sad mother and hungry child, whom somehow
she seemed to be pitying as strangers, should
have one poor meal together yet; one of those
small hot loaves and large currant buns, and a
pennyworth of tea and milk, would make them a
very feast. The rude loafers and angry landlady
in the lodging-house kitchen might be faced once
more, for it was only once, and the little hungry,
bright-souled child would clap her little blue
hands, and laugh, and babble out her tale of baby
joy over the warm and pleasant food and drink,
as gleefully as the pampered darling of some
bright home; and the mother would watch and
feed her, and almost forget the chilled, deadly
faintness of her own frame in the blessed sight ;
and then and then she would wrap her in all
she had of warm and dry, and rock her, smiling
and content, to a sleep from which she should
wake to tears and cold and hunger nevermore.
She went into the shop ; a bright-faced, bright-
haired man, of whom his customers said, "he
An Unexpected Champion. 31
always had a pleasant word, whether you went
for pound or penn'orth," served her, and remarked
" Wet and cold to-day, mistress."
"Ay," she answered bitterly, and turned
away with something between a groan and a sob ;
for she had seen, through the open door of a
living-room, beyond the shop, a woman seated by
a glowing fire, with a rosy, romping baby in her
" Poor thing ! " muttered the baker, looking after
her as he dropped the pence into the till. " She
must be wet to the skin. And how ill and poor
she do look to be sure. Thanks to the drink, I'll
engage. And to think now, how extravagant
her sort are. Nothing but the best '11 serve 'em.
Bread hot from the oven, and me willing to sell
her a stale two-pound half price. It's disgustin' !"
And he went back to his cosy fireside, and tossed
his crowing child, while the happy mother looked
proud and smiling on.
What a contrast ! thought, or rather felt, poor
Alice. Ah ! could those who saw her, a drenched
and ragged and despised outcast, crawling un-
pitied and alone through those foul, dreary slums,
have seen, too, into the luxurious drawing-room of
a splendid mansion, where, in a tropical atmo-
sphere of warmth and glow and beauty, the man
who, trading on her ignorance, simplicity, and
affection, had lured her to her ruin, sat caressed
and flattered and applauded, they would have
seen a greater.
By the time that she had threaded the network
of slums that led to the one that sheltered her,
she was so exhausted that only the thought of
her poor little Dot, whom the sheerest incapacity
for carrying so far had lately compelled her to
leave behind, crying her little heart out in loneli-
ness and hunger and fear, kept her from sinking
fainting on the pavement.
She entered the doorway of her miserable
abode. The bitter cold and rain had driven
away the loungers that usually blocked it, but