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picking oakum. here in this workhouse. As to the
family, they are as good as on the books already ; · Hewitt's life is not worth a day's purchase ; Grey has promised that is, I am sure he will find more profitable tenants than an old woman and a pack of children, who have it, besides, for next to nothing. So we may reckon on Goody Green, her girl, whose settlement is certainly here, and the whole batch of grand-children, including a sickly boy :-a rare discovery you have made for us, Mr. Stratton!'
*I have sprung the game, to be sure : and now suppose I wing them all into another parish, what will you say ?'
"That it's the best of many good turns you have done us,' answered Miles, with a bow: 'and moreover that if any living man can do it, Mr. Stratton is the gentleman.' . •Well, take no notice ; time will shew.'
When evening came, it found the cottagers seated in their snug kitchen. The widow was busy at her wheel, Helen manufacturing a suit for Willy, out of one that had done good service to James; Mary knitting; James watching the simmerings of his supper, the ingredients for wbich cross Mr. Buckle had not neglected to supply; and Willy, with no small satisfaction, reciting to Mrs. Barker a hymn that she had desired him to learn. Richard's arrival completed the party; and the story of his interview with the great men and their condescending inquiries was eagerly listened to by all. 'How very kind of the gentlemen to take such an interest in us, observed the widow, whose guileless character rendered her upsuspicious of evil. “I wish old Buckle had been there,' cried Mary. “Did they make any particular
inquiries about me?' demanded Mrs. Barker; and the toss of the head that ensued on hearing Richard's reluctant negative, bespoke a sense of offended dignity: while James remarked, “I wonder you wern't too dashed to speak.'
Helen was silent: Richard had passed very delicately over the part relating to her, merely repeating the question as to her place of birth; but she felt a sort of boding uneasiness at heart, probably from her really reflective mind catching at the obvious tendency of the examination pursued. Mrs. Barker looked at her for a moment, and exclaimed, “I shouldn't wonder'—then suddenly checking herself, shook her head, and finished by muttering in a mysterious tone a soliloquy not new from her lips: ‘I know the ways of the parish pretty well.
Prayer closed, as it bad commenced, the peaceful and industrious day; and when the widow Green had paid a tiptoe visit to each simple couch, to ascertain that all was comfortable, with a special reference to that of the sickly boy, she knelt down alone, to commend anew herself and her precious charges to him who is the God of the widow, the Father of the fatherless, and who had promised that in answer to the prayer of faith he would guide her with his counsel here, and afterward receive her to glory.
Two months glided on, without any material change in the affairs of our cottagers : but the blasts of winter that stripped the trees of their few remaining leaves, and dashed the foam of ocean over the cliffs, bearing it even to the humble roofs that stood sheltered on their western side, proved too severe for Hewitt. He was given over; and every post might be expected to convey the tidings that William Green's cottage had lapsed to the landlord. Many shared in the concern expressed by the neighbours for the result of an application which the kind clergyman had promised to make to the landlord ; and in the discomfitúre occasioned by the short reply, containing merely a reference to the agent, as being empowered to arrange all such matters in that quarter. This functionary being immediately, but privately applied to by Mr. Barlow, frankly told him that the rent thenceforth to be demanded was so entirely beyond the poor widow's means, that he had felt at liberty to promise a new lease to one who had closed with his terms. The clergyman wisely refrained from communicating this to the family, while as yet the life remained ; but secretly busied himself in devising plans for their future support.
One Saturday morning, while the widow Green was occupied in scouring up her house, assisted by Helen, two gentlemen tapped at the door. On their entrance, Mr. Stratton was recognized: the other was a stranger. A respectful reception, and ready answers to some general enquiries having been given, the visitors seated themselves, Mr. Stratton insisting that the widow should do the same, and desiring Helen to continue her employment. He then proceeded :
• There is much kind feeling excited on your behalf, my good woman: matters look very unpromising as to your lease ; and I suppose you are prepared for the worst.'
A slight quiver passed over the widow's lip, as she replied, “I trust, sir, that He who orders all things for us, will give us grace to receive it thankfully at
his hand : whether it may be wbat we call good, or what we call evil.'
"Very right: a truly religious person like you can never be cast down by a change in outward affairs ; particularly when, as you seem to say, what we call evil may turn out to be really for our good.'
That is true enough,' said his companion, as many can testify.'
This gentleman,' continued Mr. Stratton, “is a friend of mine, passing through our place. He comes from a distant town where there are hundred of families, led by different circumstances to settle there, all of whom are now thankful enough for any event that helped to fix them in such a prosperous place.'
The widow glanced around her, and towards the pretty little window which commanded a wide prospect.
“I understand your feelings, resumed her friend; “it is very hard to leave a spot we have been attached to for years, and break up old ties ; but, I doubt not, any tie would be easier for you to break than the one binding you to the children to whom you have been both mother and father, these many years.'
* It is true, sir,' answered the poor woman: 'the worst pain that ever smites me is when I think we may be par
and scattered abroad and they young!'
* And you in the decline of life, and likely soon to be wanting the comfort from them that they have found you so ready to impart,' added Mr. Stratton, looking towards Helen, who was leaning on the dresser with her face concealed.
"I do hope, I do trust,' cried the poor widow, while her tears burst forth, that it may please the
Lord, in his goodness, to order it so as not to part as yet.
Mr. Stratton nodded to his companion, who, drawing his chair nearer to her, began: “ That is what we have been considering of, my good lady. You must know, the town where I live is one of the first places in England for furnishing good, healthful, profitable employment for industrious people, from those of your own age down to the small children, whose little nimble fingers get so expert at the easy tasks given to them, that if you happened to have a little boy even of seven years old, he would make a good round sum at the week's end by his own work —or play, you may almost call it.
• What work may it be, sir?
• Different sorts : you see we are great manufacturers, and have a vast deal of employment to give so we had need, for the crowds who come begging for a share in it would distract us, if we had not. As it is, the numbers who are sent away make it a difficult thing to get; but I being able to influence the gentlemen, can always secure a person against disappointment, and get you all into a capital
• Is it the factories ?' said the widow, starting.
'I don't wonder at your being surprised to hear you may be certain of employment,' replied the other; * but depend on it I shan't deceive you.'
“I have heard much about the factories, sir, but little enough in their favour.'
To be sure,' observed Mr. Stratton, laughing. • Those who succeed settle there, and are too well engaged to run about gossipping; while the disappointed folks spread far and wide, proclaiming, like