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" How shall the young preserve their ways

From all pollution free ?
By making, Lord, their course of life
With thy commands agree."




No books are published by the AMERICAN SUNDAT-SCHOOL UNION
without the sanction of the Committee of Publication, consisting of four-
teen members, from Hie following denominations of Christians, viz. : Bap-
tist, Methodist, Congregational, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and
Reformed Dutch. Not more than three of the members can be of the same
denomination, and no book can be published to which any member of the
Committee shall object.




"God has given to each his station;

Some have riches and high place,
Some have lowly homes and labour:
ALL may have his precious grace."

RATHER more than ten, but certainly within
twenty miles of the great busy world of Lon-
don lies a village containing between two and
three thousand inhabitants, which, though not
its real name, we shall, for the purpose of
our present story, call Springfield. Many
years ago, it was a place of greater import-
ance than it is at present, for the dwellings of
several persons of distinction were in its neigh-
bourhood ; and the residence of their families
there during the greater part of the year
caused it to be the frequent resort of many
noble and wealthy visitors, whose presence
added not a little to the general prosperity of
the village. But those days are gone, perhaps


never to return; and the stranger who now
passes through Springfield (beyond an air
of great neatness and respectability, which, as
all allow, it still possesses) notes nothing by
which to distinguish it from a hundred other
villages of the same general character which
he may have visited elsewhere. It consists of
one long but not particularly straight street,
with houses on each side, some of which are
shops, while others are the private abodes of
the gentry and other inhabitants.

Nearly in the centre of the village stands
the church, an edifice of which, as far as
beauty is concerned, perhaps the less that is
said the better; its pretensions to architectural
excellence being of a decidedly humble cha-
racter, though its whole appearance is per-
fectly in accordance with good order and neat-
ness. One kind of beauty is, however, cer-
tainly to be found within its walls, even the
beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ, simply,
earnestly and faithfully preached ; and we think
there are few of our readers who will not agree
with us that this is far more to be prized than
the most perfect architectural design or the
most elaborate and costly ornament.

But to commence our story. We must ask
the reader, in imagination, to accompany us
rather more than half-way through the village.


We then come to a wide turning, to all
appearance leading only to a straggling old-
fashioned wooden building, once a farm-house,
standing at some distance from the road.
A short, open passage runs oddly almost
through the centre of it. People are con-
stantly passing and repassing it; and if we
also turn our steps thitherward we soon find
ourselves out at the other end, where a differ-
ent scene opens to our view. On our right
hand is a garden full of flowers and vegetables;
on our left, a row of small weather-boarded
cottages, painted white. We go on, and
another group presents itself, but rather dif-
ferent in form, for they are said to have been
made out of the capacious barn and granary
which once stood in the farm-yard. We still
continue our walk, and come to another row,
and another, and another, larger than the
first; but all wooden, painted white and look-
ing very clean. There is no name written on
them; but they are called Jubilee Cottages, be-
cause they were built about the time when a
good old clergyman, long since gone to his rest,
(having been vicar of Springfield fifty years,)
a jubilee a sort of feast for all the poor
people was held to celebrate the event.
Snug, comfortable cottages they are : most of
them have D >at, tidy people living in them


too, for the owner will not (if he knows it) let
any of his houses to dirty or disreputable
families ; and so it has come to pass that the
inhabitants of Jubilee Cottages are generally
regarded as a well-conducted, respectable set
of people, though to this rule there are of
course occasional exceptions. The view from
the front of these houses is pleasant and ex-
tensive ; and those before which the garden
above mentioned does not extend, look out
upon bright-green fields, from which they are
separated only by a row of short white palings.
Little slips of garden, sufficient for the cultiva-
tion of a few flowers and vegetables, are behind

At the time of which we speak, one of
these cottages was the abode of John Butter-
field, a man who earned good wages as a
wheelwright. It was Friday about twelve
o'clock, and his wife, Mary Butterfield, stood
by the fire stirring something in a saucepan.
She was a kind, gentle-looking woman; but
her countenance wore a sad, care-worn ex-
pression, for which it seemed difficult to
account when one looked around and noted
the pleasant, comfortable home in which she
dwelt. The rooms were furnished in a superior
manner to those of many of the other cottages,
and every thing around her was neat Mid clean.


Some plain needlework, with which she had
been employed, lay on the table : she had put
it down in order to prepare her husband's
dinner. In a few minutes the door opened,
and two little girls, apparently about twelve
and thirteen, entered from school. Ruth, the
elder, was a child remarkably quiet and gentle
both in appearance and manner; and Fanny,
the younger, was all life and spirits; she had
a rosy, sparkling face, and came in, as usual,
jumping and dancing about.

"Hush, Fanny dear," said the mother; "be
a little quiet, for my head aches this morning.
You need not take off your bonnets," she
added : " I want you to cany father's dinner/'

"Won't father be home ?" asked Euth.

"No," replied her mother: "he is up at
West Farm to-day, mending some wagons, and
said that he would rather have his dinner sent.
It is just ready," she continued, as she covered
the dish and put it in a basket and gave it into
Ruth's hand. "Be careful that you don't spill
the gravy. And tell him, Ruth, that there's not
quite so much meat to-day, but they are
beautiful potatoes, and perhaps he will be
able to make out with them."

The two children set off, Ruth walking
slowly with the basket, Fanny skipping by
her side and every now and then turning


round to know why her sister did not move
more quickly. In about three-quarters of an
hour they were back again.

"Mother, I'm so hungry!" said Fanny.
" What have you got for dinner ?"

" Only some potatoes, dear," replied her

" Only potatoes !" repeated Fanny. "I was
wondering as we came along whether we
should have a pudding. But never mind : I'm
so hungry I can eat any thing; only let us
have the cloth, Ruth, and knives and forks.
I never feel as if I had had any dinner unless
we sit down properly to it."

Mary Butterfield faintly smiled at her little
girl's notions of propriety; and, as she always
encouraged her children in habits of neatness
and order, she desired Ruth to lay the cloth,
while Fanny quickly set herself to peel the

"There! don't they look nice?" she ex-
claimed, as she set the steaming dish on the
table. " You will have some, mother, won't
you ?"

" No, not to-day," said her mother. " I don't
feel inclined to eat. I shall have a cup of tea

"Have one now, mother," said Ruth; "do.
t will soon make the kettle boil."


"No, dear Euth, not yet, thank you. Say
grace, my children, and begin your dinners."

Fanny seemed much more hungry than her
sister: she was indeed so busy, first salting her
potatoes and then eating them, that she could
not find time even for talking. Presently Euth

"Mother, I have nearly finished that work
that you gave me yesterday. Have you some
more ready for me to take this afternoon ?"

" Yes, dear : I have fixed some more. Has
Fanny nearly finished her's, too ?"

Fanny blushed, and, taking another potato,
so completely covered it with salt that she
could hardly manage to eat it. The question
had not been exactly addressed to her : so she
did not seem to think it necessary to answer it.

" She puckered the seam," said Euth, at
length : " so I told her I thought she had better
pick it out, mother."

Mrs. Butterfield shook her head. " Fanny,"
said she, " I wish you would learn to be a little
more careful: you have been taught plain work
now quite long enough to be able to sew with-
out puckering it, I think."

" I can't bear plain work," said Fanny, half
pettishly. "I would rather do anything else
in the world. I do wish, mother, you would
let us go to the factory. I know I could soon


learn to make envelopes and earn plenty of

" Don't ask me that again, Fanny/' replied
her mother : " you know that I have a particu-
lar objection to your going to the factory."

" Jane Allen goes. She earned three shillings
last week ; and she is a year younger than I
am," said Fanny. "She says I should soon
earn as much."

" Fanny, I am not accustomed to have what
I think best for my children disputed by a pert
little girl like Jane Allen," replied her mother,
rather severely. " I beg you will never mention
the factory to me again. If I thought it right
for you to go, I should certainly send you ; but
I do not, and therefore you will continue to go
to school, and will, I hope, learn to be more
attentive than you have lately been."

Fanny was silenced and hung down her
head. She both looked and felt a little ashamed,
for this was by no means the first time that
she had given her mother cause to speak thus
severely. Ruth's eyes were full of tears. She
loved her mother dearly and could not bear to
see her troubled. Another half-hour, and they
were on their way back to school.



" The heart knoweth its own bitterr ess." PROVERBS xiv. 10.
" Example is a constant monitor ; and good seed will die
among tares."

IT was Easter eve. Easter fell early that
year, and the soft beautiful rays of the moon
streamed in at the window of the little room
which Ruth and, Fanny called their own and
of which they were now the sole and silent
occupants. Fanny was asleep and dreaming
about a new bonnet with blue ribbons which
she was to wear on the following morning;
but Ruth was still awake. She was thinking,
thinking how pale and thin her mother looked
now, and wondering to herself how it was that
the medicine which she had from the infirmary
did her so little good. Yes, Ruth was a kind,
thoughtful girl.

John Butterfield had just come home to his
evening meal. It had been waiting for him
some time; for, though he left off work at six,
it was now more than half-past seven. Mary
sat at her sewing : he saw the rapid motion of



her hand as he lifted the latch and entered the
room. She looked up at him, and, immediately
laying aside her work, placed on the table a
little covered dish which stood before the fire,
and prepared to pour out the tea by the time he
should come in from the backroom whither he
went to wash. It was a comfortable meal
which she had prepared for him; the hearth,
too, was bright and clean, and the little tea-
kettle sang merrily over the fire. Mary tried to
look cheerful also, but her cheerfulness was
only assumed : any one might have seen that.

Her husband took some money from his
pocket and laid it on the table : he then sat
down by the fire and commenced warming and
rubbing his hands. Mary took up the money
and counted it: there were just nine shillings
and sixpence, but little more than a third of
what she knew his earnings to have been, for
he had worked overtime nearly every day that
week. She did not say any thing, but a gentle
sigh escaped her as she placed four shillings for
the rent under a cup on the mantel-piece : the re-
maining five and sixpence she put in her pocket,
after which John, who had not yet made
any remark beyond saying that it was a chilly
night, drew up to the table and began sipping his
tea ; but he appeared to care very little about it.

"Mary, girl/' said he, as he uncovered the


dish and cut himself a piece of the nicely-
broiled meat, "you look pale to-night: that
medicine does not seem to do you much good."
The fact was that John Butterfield felt ashamed
of himself, and thought he must for once say
something a little civil to his wife.

" No," replied Mary, quietly, "it does not:
Dr. Smith's mixture seemed to agree with me
better. If you had been in a little sooner I
meant to have asked you to go to him for an-
other bottle; but it is too late now."

" It is not much past seven ; I suppose," said
John. "I only just stopped at the corner to
speak to Mark Davis."

"I think it is nearly eight," replied Mary;
and there was a pause for some minutes,
during which she again took up her work.

"I wish, Mary," said her husband, pettishly,
" that you wouldn't be always at that work.
It is that, and nothing else, that makes you sick
and wears all the flesh off your bones."

She answered, as she always did, meekly.
"But what am I to do, dear John? I cannot
let our home go to wreck and ruin, or yet let
the children starve : they do not have too
much as it is, poor things! And then there i&
the doctor's bill : you know we have only paid
half that yet." The mention of the doctor's
bill gave John Butterfield's conscience an un-


pleasant twinge, for it was one which during
the last autumn had been incurred for himself,
through his own folly and selfishness in
having squandered at the tavern the money
which Mary had supposed that he had paid
his beneficial society and thus secured medical
attendance for any time of need. The
many vows of amendment, too, which he had
made during that illness, came, back uncom-
fortably to his recollection. But he would not
let Mary see this: so he answered, sharply,

"Well, if we have not paid it, you needn't
work to do ifc. And as to the children, I can
see no reason why they shouldn't help to get
their own living, as other girls do. For my
part, I don't think there is any good in giving
them so much learning."

" I do not wish to give them much learning,
John, nothing beyond their station j but Euth
is not quite thirteen, and is getting on so nicely
that I think it would be a pity to take her
from school for the next six, or three months at
least. Fanny, you know, is but eleven and a half."

"Well, I don't know how it is/' said' the
husband : " other people's children begin to get
their living much younger. Look at the Aliens
and the Bells: all their children go to the
factory; and I am sure our's would be willing
enough, too, if you would let them."


" I know they would : they would both like
to go/' replied Mary. " But oh, John," she
continued, speaking very earnestly, " do not
ask me again to send them. They are our only
two; and surely -with our means we ought to
be able to bring them up a little better than
those who have eight or ten. You know I
would -rather let them go and pick stones in
the fields. I would rather work my own fin-
gers to the bone than send them there."

"Well, I can't see any reason at all in it,"
said her husband. "It's nothing but a foolish
notion you have got into your head about that
factory. Surely other people's children are as
good as our's. You don't mean to say they are
all bad that go there, any more than other
places ?"

"Oh, no," replied Mary: "far be it from me
to judge so uncharitably. I have no doubt
that there may be many well-conducted young
persons among the envelope-makers; but you
know, John, the evils which generally creep in
where so many of all sorts are collected to-
gether. You know, too, from what we daily
see and hear, that the manners and conversa-
tion of many of the elder girls are such as we
should not wish our children to imitate; yet
if we wilfully place them in the way of temp-
tation we cannot be surprised if they fall into


it. If you will only let them go to school a
little longer, I will do all I can to get Euth
out I dare say some one will take her; for,
although young, she is very steady/'

John Butterfield drew down the corners of
his mouth and looked very cross. ,

"lam sorry to oppose you in this, John,"
continued Mary, in her usual quiet tone ; " but
I promise that you shall never miss what they
might earn : they can both Euth especially
help me with my work. Only say that you
will not send them." And she looked entreat-
ingly into his face.

" Well, I don't care about it," he replied,
gruffly ; and, pushing back his chair into the
corner, he shut his eyes, as though he intended
to go to sleep.

It. was very true, John Butterfield did not
care about it. He cared neither for wife nor
children. So that he could have money to
spend upon himself, it signified not to him that
his wife his good, meek, industrious wife
was sinking, under the pressure of care, suffer-
ing and sorrow, into an early grave ; that his
children were often stinted for food, and that
but for the untiring thrift and industry of theii
mother they would long ago have gone in
tatters. Ah, yes ! John Butterfield was a self-


ish, hard-hearted man. Would there were fewer
like him !

The envelope-factory, to which he was so
anxious to send Euth and Fanny, had been
established in Springfield about twelve months
before by a person from a neighbouring town.
When it was first opened and notice given
that workers were required, the people, never
having been accustomed to any thing of the
kind, took alarm at the name of factory, and
were by no means forward to send their chil-
dren, especially as the town-workers already
employed were not generally creditable either
in manners or appearance. After a time, how-
ever, a few began to alter their opinion and,
as the pay was tolerably good, others, when
an example was once set, soon began to follow
it, and, apparently regardless of the welfare
of their children, took them from school, and,
for the sake of the few shillings which they
would bring home on Saturday night, sub-
jected them not only to the confinement of a
close and heated room from early morning
until late in the evening, but, what was far
worse, to the contaminating influence of the
society in which they must there mix.

These direct evils of the factory, however,
were not the only considerations which actuated
Mary Butterfield in so earnestly and steadily


opposing her husband's selfish wishes. She
knew that if she once yielded to them she
must give up all hope of continuing to bring
up her children in an industrious and domestic
manner, whereby she might fit them, when old
en ough, for respectable service. The observation
of a very few months had sufficed to show her
that the girls who worked in the factory almost
unavoidably lost all domestic habits, grew bold
and independent in their manners and untidy
and slatternly in their persons, though in
many instances a considerable portion of their
earnings was expended in gay and tawdry
finery. For Euth she feared the effect of all
this much less than for Fanny, who possessed
a light-hearted, open disposition, not unmixed
with vanity and frivolity, peculiarly liable to
become influenced by the habits and example
of those around them.

From the first she had had a great desire to
go to the factory. There was something so de-
lightful and important in the idea of earning
money all by herself, that it appeared to her
as if no employment in the world could be so
fascinating as that of making envelopes. Be-
sides which, she did not, as w T e have seen, like
school; and she hated plain work. Euth would
have liked to go too, not because she wished to
leave school, but because it would have been


a pleasure to her to help her mother in any
way she could, knowing, as she did, the hard
struggle which she often had to keep out of
debt and to make " both ends meet."

Euth was the only one who knew this; for
Mary Butterfield was not a woman who went
about proclaiming her husband's faults and
seeking sympathy in her troubles from her
neighbours. No : she was content to tell her
sorrows only to Him who seeth in secret, and
of him to supplicate direction, guidance and
grace to help in time of need. When she mar-
ried John Butterfield fourteen years before, he
had not the character that he now bore, though
even then she knew that he was not a God-
fearing man. But her affection for him had
blinded her, and she fondly believed that her
influence over him would soon lead him to think
differently. Alas ! like too many others, she
was not long in finding that she had fatally
deceived herself; and many and bitter were
the tears which she shed in secret over the
fault which she now saw that she had committed
in marrying him. Many and earnest were the
prayers which she put up in his behalf, prayers
which, though hitherto, as it seemed, unan-
swered, were still daily and unceasingly offered.

Both in person and disposition Euth much
resembled her mother; and, though some people


who saw her steady, thoughtful vays felt in-
clined to laugh at her and call ho? "a little old-
fashioned thing/' those who knew her best said
that there were very few children of her age
who could be depended on like Euth Butter-
field, or who were withal so loving, meek and
obedient to their parents. Yes : obedience was
one of Euth's best qualities; and ao it was that
when her mother told her tbut she had a
decided objection to their going to the factory
she quietly submitted and said no more about
it. Not so Fanny, who omitted no opportunity
of bringing up the subject, until, as we have
seen, she was at length silenced by her motboi
desiring her never to mention it again.



"The world is but the rugged road
Which leads us to the bright abode

Of peace above ;

So let us choose that narrow way
Which leads no traveller's foot astray
From realms of love."

SUMMER floated away on her brilliant wings;
then came autumn, with rich stores of golden
treasures, accompanied by days sometimes
sweetly serene, sometimes damp, chilly and
disturbed by boisterous winds and hard driving
rains. There had been but few changes to
speak of among the inhabitants of Jubilee
Cottages, for they were not by any means a
wandering or changeable race of people, many
of the families having occupied their present
abode from the time when they were first built.
The Butterfields were still there, and John But-
terfield still earned good wages, and still spent
them in much the same manner as formerly.
.Ruth and Fanny continued to go to school; and
the envelope-factory was distinguished by an
increased number of workers and a more flou-


rishing state of trade. But Mary Butterfield, -
poor Mary ! she was suffering from an incurable
and painful malady. For the last eighteen
months it had been gradually creeping over her;
but latterly she had looked more worn and fra-
gile than ever. She went on taking in plain
work: she could sit still and do that, she said,
though it tired her sadly to work about the
house ; but Ruth was now old enough to be
very useful in domestic matters, and therefore
it did not so much signify.

One Monday afternoon, when Ruth came in
from school, (Fanny having been kept by her
schoolmistress to carry a note to the clergy-
man's,) she was surprised to find that her mo-
ther was gone out. She wondered the more at
this as for the last few Sundays she had been
unable even to go to church, although the dis-

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Online LibrarySarah Maria FryThe young envelope-makers → online text (page 1 of 8)