POOR AND PROUD
THE FORTUNES OF KATY REDBURN
A STORY FOR YOUNG FOLKS
TO ALICE MARIE ADAMS, This Book IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED BY HER FATHER.
Poor and Proud.
Bobby Bright and Harry West, whose histories were contained in the last two volumes of the "Library for Young Folks," were both smart boys. The author, very grateful for the genial welcome extended to these young gentlemen, begs leave to introduce to his juvenile friends a smart girl,—Miss Katy Redburn,—whose fortunes, he hopes, will prove sufficiently interesting to secure their attention.
If any of my adult readers are disposed to accuse me of being a little extravagant, I fear I shall have to let the case go by default; but I shall plead, in extenuation, that I have tried to be reasonable, even where a few grains of the romantic element were introduced; for Baron Munchausen and Sindbad the Sailor were standard works on my shelf in boyhood, and I may possibly have imbibed some of their peculiar spirit. But I feel a lively satisfaction in the reflection that, whatever exaggerations the critic may decide I have perpetrated in this volume, I have made the success of Katy Redburn depend upon her good principles, her politeness, her determined perseverance, and her overcoming that foolish pride which is a snare to the feet. In these respects she is a worthy exemplar for the young.
Pride and poverty do not seem to agree with each other; but there is a pride which is not irreconcilable with the humblest station. This pride of character finds an illustration in the life of my heroine.
Thanking my young friends again for the pleasant reception given to my former books I submit this volume in the hope that Katy Redburn will prove to be a worthy and agreeable companion for their leisure hours.
WILLIAM T. ADAMS. DORCHESTER, Sept. 29, 1858.
I. Katy Redburn and Others Are Introduced II. The History of the Silver Watch III. Katy and Master Simon Sneed Visit the Pawnbroker's Shop IV. Katy Matures a Magnificent Scheme V. Katy Visits Mrs. Gordon, and Gets Rid of Dr. Flynch VI. Katy Prepares a Stock of Merchandise VII. Katy Makes a Large Sale VIII. Katy Sells Out, and Visits the Mayor IX. Katy talks with the Mayor, and Recovers the Watch X. Katy, in Distress, finds a Champion XI. Katy Meets with Extraordinary Success XII. Katy Pays Her Debts, and Tommy Goes to Sea XIII. Katy Employs an Assistant XIV. Master Simon Sneed Makes a Mistake XV. Katy Gets a Letter from Liverpool XVI. Ann Grippen Plays Tricks upon Travelers XVII. The Sun Sets, and the Night Comes On XVIII. Katy Struggles Bravely through a Series of Trials XIX. Katy Resorts to a Loan XX. Mrs. Gordon Feels Faint, and Katy Enters a New Sphere XXI. Katy Goes to Church, and Has a Birthday Party
POOR AND PROUD; OR, THE FORTUNES OF KATY REDBURN.
KATY REDBURN AND OTHERS ARE INTRODUCED.
"Give me a flounder, Johnny?" said a little girl of eleven, dressed in coarse and ragged garments, as she stooped down and looked into the basket of the dirty young fisherman, who sat with his legs hanging over the edge of the pier.
"I'll bet I won't," replied Johnny, gruffly, as he drew the basket out of the reach of the supplicant. "You needn't come round here tryin' to hook my fish."
"You hooked 'em," said another juvenile angler who sat on the capsill of the pier by Johnny's side.
"Who says I hooked 'em?" blustered Johnny, whose little dirty paws involuntarily assumed the form of a pair of fists, scientifically disposed and ready to be the instruments of the owner's vengeance upon the traducer of his character.
"I say so," added Tommy Howard, who did not seem to be at all alarmed at the warlike attitude of his fellow-angler.
"Say it again, and I'll smash your head," continued Johnny, jumping up from his seat.
"Didn't you hear me? Once is enough."
Tommy coolly hauled up a large flounder at that moment, and threw the fish into his basket. It was rather refreshing to see how regardless he was of that pair of menacing fists.
"Jest you say that once more, and see what I'll do," persisted Johnny.
"I won't do it."
"You dasn't say it again."
"Perhaps I dasn't; at any rate, I shan't."
"Do you mean to say I hooked them fish?" exclaimed Johnny, desperately, for it seemed as though he must do something to vindicate his injured honor.
"That's just what I did say."
But Tommy was so confoundedly cool that his fellow-angler had some doubts about the expediency of "pitching into him." Probably a vision of defeat flashed through his excited brain and discretion seemed the better part of valor. Yet he was not disposed to abandon his position, and advanced a pace or two toward his provoking companion; a movement which, to an unpracticed eye, would indicate a purpose to do something.
"Don't fight, Tommy," said the little ragged girl.
"I don't mean to fight, Katy,"—Johnny, at these words, assumed an artistic attitude, ready to strike the first blow,—"only if Johnny hits me, I shall knock him into the middle of next week."
Johnny did not strike. He was a prudent young man.
"Don't fight, Johnny," repeated the girl, turning to the excited aspirant for the honors of the ring.
"Do you suppose I'll let him tell me I hooked them fish?" blustered Johnny.
"He didn't mean anything."
"Yes, I did," interposed Tommy. "He caught 'em on a hook; so of course he hooked em. I hooked mine too."
"Is that what you meant?" asked Johnny, a broad grin overspreading his dirty face, and his fists suddenly expanding into dirty paws again.
"That's just what I meant; and your skull is as thick as a two-inch plank, or you would have seen what I meant."
"I see now."
Johnny was not disposed to resent this last insinuation about the solidity of his cranium. He was evidently too glad to get out of the scrape without a broken head or a bloody nose. Johnny was a bully, and he had a bully's reputation to maintain; but he never fought when the odds were against him; and he had a congressman's skill in backing out before the water got too hot. On the whole, he rather enjoyed the pun; and he had the condescension to laugh heartily, though somewhat unnaturally, at the jest.
"Will you give me a flounder, Tommy?" said the little ragged girl, as she glanced into his well-filled basket.
"What do you want of him, Katy?" asked Tommy turning round and gazing up into her sad, pale face.
Katy hesitated; her bosom heaved, and her lips compressed, as though she feared to answer the question.
"To eat," she replied, at last, in a husky tone.
"What's the matter, Katy?"
The face of the child seemed to wear a load of care and anxiety, and as the young fisherman gazed a tear started from her eye, and slid down her cheek. Tommy's heart melted as he saw this exhibition of sorrow. He wondered what could ail her.
"My mother is sick," replied Katy, dashing away the tell-tale tear.
"I know that; but what do you want of flounders?"
"We have nothing to eat now," said Katy, bursting into tears. "Mother has not been able to do any work for more than three months: and we haven't got any money now. It's all gone. I haven't had any breakfast to-day."
"Take 'em all, Katy!" exclaimed Tommy, jumping up from his seat on the capsill of the pier. "How will you carry them? Here, I will string 'em for you."
Tommy was all energy now, and thrust his hands down into the depths of his pockets in search of a piece of twine. Those repositories of small stores did not contain a string, however; but mixed up with a piece of cord, a slate pencil, an iron hinge, two marbles, a brass ring, and six inches of stovepipe chain, were two cents, which the owner thereof carefully picked out of the heap of miscellaneous articles and thrust them into the hand of Katy.
"Here, take them; and as you go by the grocery at the corner of the court, buy a two-cent roll," whispered he. "Got a bit o' string, Johnny?" he added aloud, as Katy began to protest against taking the money.
"Hain't got none; but I'll give you a piece of my fish line, if you want," replied the bully, who was now unusually obliging.
"There's a piece of spunyarn, that's just the thing I want;" and Tommy ran half way up the pier to the bridge, picked up the line, and commenced stringing the flounders on it.
"I don't want them all, Tommy; only give me two or three. I never shall forget you, Tommy," said Katy, her eyes suffused with tears of gratitude.
"I'm sorry things go so bad with you, Katy, and I wish I could do something more for you."
"I don't want anything more. Don't put any more on the string. There's six. We can't eat any more."
"Well, then, I'll bring you some more to-morrow," replied Tommy, as he handed her the string of fish. "Stop a minute; here's a first-rate tom-cod; let me put him on;" and he took the string and added the fish to his gift.
"I never shall forget you, Tommy; I shall only borrow the two cents; I will pay you again some time," said she, in a low tone, so that Johnny could not hear her.
"Never mind 'em, Katy. Don't go hungry again for a minute. Come to me, and I'll help you to something or other."
"Thank you, Tommy;" and with a lighter heart than she had brought with her, she hastened up the pier, no doubt anticipating a rich feast from the string of fish.
The pier of the new South Boston bridge was then, as now, a favorite resort for juvenile fishermen. Flounders, tom-cod, and eels, to say nothing of an occasional sculpin, which boys still persist in calling "crahpies," or "crahooners," used to furnish abundant sport to a motley group of youngsters wherein the sons of merchants mingled democratically with the dirty, ragged children of the "Ten-footers" in the vicinity. The pier was neutral ground, and Frederic Augustus made a friend of Michael or Dennis, and probably neither was much damaged by this free companionship; for Michael or Dennis often proves to be more of a gentleman in his rags and dirty face than Frederic Augustus in his broadcloth and white linen.
Katy walked as fast as her little feet would carry her, till she came to a court leading out of Essex Street. The bells were ringing for one o'clock as she entered the grocery at the corner and purchased the two-cent roll which Tommy Howard's bounty enabled her to add to her feast. Elated with the success of her mission, she quickened her pace up the court to a run, rushed into the house and up-stairs to her mother's room with as much enthusiasm as though she had found a bag of gold, instead of having obtained a very simple dinner.
"O, mother, I've got a lot of flounders and some bread for you!" exclaimed she, as she bolted into the room.
"Then you have money," said a cold voice in the chamber; and Katy perceived, standing near the bed on which her mother lay, a man who was no stranger to her.
It was Dr. Flynch; but let not my young reader make a mistake. He was no good Samaritan, who had come to pour oil and wine into the wounds of the poor sick woman; not even a physician, who had come to give medicine for a fee, to restore her to health and strength. It is true he was called a doctor, and he had been a doctor, but he did not practice the healing art now. If he had failed to make a physician, it was not because his heart was so tender that he could not bear to look upon pain and suffering. He was the agent of Mrs. Gordon, a widow lady, who owned the house in which Katy's mother lived. He collected her rents, and transacted all her business; and as far as dollars and cents were concerned, he had certainly been a faithful servant. Dr. Flynch was a prudent and discreet man, and did not hurt the feelings of the good lady who employed him by telling her about the difficulties he encountered in the discharge of his duty, or by describing the harsh and even cruel means to which he was sometimes obliged to resort, in order to obtain the rent of poor tenants.
"Mrs. Redburn," said Dr. Flynch, when he had heard the exclamation of Katy, "you have told me a falsehood. You said you had no money, not a cent. Where did you get that roll, child?"
"At the store at the corner of the court," replied Katy, abashed by the cold dignity of the agent.
"Precisely so, Mrs. Redburn; but you do not buy bread without money. You have attempted to deceive me. I have pitied you up to the present time, and indulged you in the non-payment of your rent for over a week I can do so no longer, for you have told me a falsehood."
"No, sir, I have not," pleaded the sick woman.
"Your child buys bread."
"I did not give her the money."
"Where did you get the money to buy that roll with?" demanded Dr. Flynch, turning sharply to Katy.
"Tommy Howard gave it to me."
"Who is Tommy Howard?"
"He lives on the other side of the court."
"Very probable that a dirty, ragged boy gave her the money! This is another false-hood, Mrs. Redburn. I lament that a person in your situation should have no higher views of Christian morality than to lie yourself, and teach your child to lie, which is much worse."
The poor woman burst into tears, and protested that she had told the truth, and nothing but the truth; declaring that Katy was a good girl, that she had eaten nothing that day, and would not tell a lie. Dr. Flynch was a man of method, and when a tenant did not pay the rent, it was his purpose to get rid of that tenant in the quietest way possible. In the present case there was a difficulty, and public opinion would not justify him in turning a sick woman out of the house; but if she lied, had money concealed, and would not pay her rent, it would alter the matter. As he wished to believe this was the case, he had no difficulty in convincing himself, and thus quieting his poor apology for a conscience.
Besides being a man of method, Dr. Flynch was a man of upright walk and conversation; at least, he passed for such with those who did not know anything about him. If Mrs. Gordon should happen to hear that he had turned out the sick woman, he could then inform her how feelingly he had pointed out to her the wickedness of her conduct, which he thought would sound exceedingly well.
"Mrs. Redburn," he continued, "I will give you till this time to-morrow to get out of the house; if you are not gone then, I shall be under the painful necessity of removing your goods into the street. Good morning;" and Dr. Flynch turned upon his heel, and walked out of the room.
"My poor child! what will become of us?" sobbed the sick woman, as she grasped Katy's hand, and pressed it to her bosom with convulsive energy.
"Don't cry, mother; something can be done. I will go and see Mrs. Gordon, and beg her to let you stay here."
"You must not do that; Dr. Flynch told me, if I troubled her about the house, I should not stay in it another minute, even if I paid the rent."
"He is a bad man, mother; and I don't believe Mrs. Gordon knows what he does here."
"There is one thing more we can do, Katy," continued Mrs. Redburn, wiping away her tears, and taking from under her pillow a heavy silver watch. "This was your father's; but we must sell it now. It is all we have left."
"I should hate to have that sold, mother."
"We must sell it, or pawn it."
"We will pawn it then."
"How shall we do it? I have not strength to rise, and they will cheat you if you offer it."
"I will tell you what I can do, mother; I will get Simon Sneed to go with me to the pawnbroker's shop. He is very kind to me, and I know he will. He comes home to dinner at two o-clock."
This plan was agreed to, and Katy then went to work to clean and cook the flounders.
THE HISTORY OF THE SILVER WATCH.
Katy Redburn was only eleven years old, and not a very accomplished cook; but as the children learn faster in the homes of the poor than in the dwellings of the rich, she had a very tolerable idea of the management of a frying-pan. The operation of cleaning the flounders was the greatest trial, for the skin of the fish has to be removed. She cut her fingers with the knife, and scratched and pricked her hands with the sharp bones; but she was resolute, and finally accomplished the task to her entire satisfaction. An occasional direction from her mother enabled her to cook the fish properly, and dinner was ready. There were still a few small stores left in the closet, and Katy made a cup of tea for her mother, and with it placed the delicate little flounder by the side of the bed. The invalid had no appetite, but to please Katy she ate a portion of the fish and bread though it was very hard work for her to do so. The little girl, gladdened by this unwonted sight, made a hearty meal, without a thought of the trials and sorrows which the future might have in store for them.
When she had put away the dishes, and placed everything in order, she washed herself, combed her hair, sewed up a great rent in her dress, and otherwise attempted to make herself as tidy as possible for the mission she was about to undertake.
"It is not time for you to go yet, Katy; and before the watch is carried off, I want to tell you something about your father, that you may learn to prize it as I do."
Katy seated herself on the side of the bed, for she was very anxious to hear more about her father than she already knew. She had often asked her mother about him, but she had generally evaded her questions, and did not seem willing to tell her all she knew. She thought there was some secret connected with his history, and with a child's curiosity she was eager to have the mystery unfolded. But it was no great secret, after all only a painful history, which her sensitive mother did not like to rehearse. Mrs. Redburn handed the watch to Katy, and asked her to look upon the back of it.
"Yes, mother, I have often seen those words on there—'All for the Best.' What do they mean?" said Katy.
"This watch was given to your father by my father," replied Mrs. Redburn, with a deep sigh, for the words seemed to recall happy memories of the past.
"Who was your father?" asked the attentive little girl.
"His name was Matthew Guthrie. He was a merchant in Liverpool, England, where I was born."
"A merchant, mother? Then he was a rich man, and lived in a great house, and had plenty of servants."
"He was rich, and lived in good style. One day there came a young man in great distress to his counting-room. He was a clerk, and had been sent by his employer in Manchester to pay a large sum of money to my father. After leaving the train, he had entered an ale-house, where he had been robbed of the remittance. He had been imprudent, but instead of running away, he went directly to my father, and informed him of his misfortune. The young man felt that he was ruined, but he said he was determined not to leave Liverpool till he had found the money. He was sure he knew the man who had robbed him, and my father procured the services of several policemen to assist him in his search. All that day and all that night, attended by policemen, he visited the resorts of vice and crime, and his perseverance was rewarded with success. He found the man, and the money was recovered. My father was so well pleased with the energy of the young man, that he gave him a situation in his counting room. That young man was John Redburn, your father. My father gave him a much larger salary than he had been receiving before, so that his misfortune in losing the money proved to be a piece of good fortune to him, for it procured him a much better situation. The new clerk performed his duties very faithfully, and at the end of a year my father presented him this watch, with the motto, 'All for the Best,' in allusion to the manner in which he had obtained his situation."
"But how came you here, mother, if your father was rich, and lived in a fine house? You are very poor now;" asked Katy, who feared that the mystery was yet to come.
Mrs. Redburn burst into tears, and covered her face with her hands, as the pleasant memories of her former happy home rushed through her mind.
"Don't cry, mother; I won't ask you any more questions," said Katy, grieved to find she had reminded her mother of some unpleasant thing.
"It was all my own fault, Katy. I am here poor and wretched, because I disobeyed my father; because I did what he desired me not to do. I will tell you all about it, Katy. I became acquainted with the new clerk, John Redburn, and the result of our acquaintance was, that we were married in about a year. We ran away from home; for my father, however much he liked John as a clerk, was not willing that he should be my husband. He forbade John's coming to our house, and forbade my seeing him. I disobeyed him. We were married, and John was discharged. My father refused to see me again."
"That was cruel," interposed Katy
"My father was right, and I have always regretted that I disobeyed him. We came to America, and your father procured a situation in New York, where you were born, about a year after we arrived. For three years we got along very well. I wish I could stop here, Katy, for the rest of the story is very sad."
"Don't tell me any more, mother, it makes you feel so bad, I would rather not hear it. I know now why you value the watch so much, and I hope we shall be able to get it back again."
"I fear not. But you must hear the rest of this sad story."
Mrs. Redburn continued the narrative, though tears blinded her eyes, and sobs chocked her utterance, as she told of the struggle she had had with poverty and want. Her husband had done very well in New York; and, gay and light-hearted in the midst of his prosperity, his habits had been gradually growing worse and worse, till he lost his situation, and became a common sot. The poor wife had then been compelled to toil for her own support and that of her child; and having been brought up in luxury and ease, it was a dreadful task to her.
John obtained another situation, but soon lost it. He was a good-hearted man when he had not been drinking, and keenly felt the disgrace and misery he was heaping upon himself and his unhappy wife. Once he had the resolution to abandon the cup, fully determined to redeem his lost character, and make his family happy again. The better to accomplish this, he removed to Boston, where he obtained a good situation, and for more than a year he adhered to his resolution. Mrs. Redburn was happy again and tremblingly hoped that the clouds of darkness had forever passed away.
The evil time came again, and John Redburn sank down lower than ever before. His wife lost all hope of him, and struggled, with the courage of a hero and the fortitude of a martyr, against the adverse tide that set against her. She was fortunate in obtaining plenty of sewing, and was able to support herself and child very well; but her husband, now lost to all sense of decency, contrived to obtain, from time to time, a portion of her hard earnings. She could never have believed that John Redburn would come to this; for, as a clerk in her father's counting room, he had been all that was good and noble; but there he was a miserable sot, lost to himself, to his family, and the world.
One morning in winter he was brought home to her dead. He had died in the watch-house of delirium tremens. He was buried, and peace, if not hope, settled on the brow of the broken-hearted wife.
Year after year Mrs. Redburn struggled on, often with feeble hands and fainting heart, to earn a subsistence for herself and Katy. She had been bred in opulence, and her wants were not so few and simple as the wants of those who have never enjoyed the luxury of a soft couch and a well-supplied table. She had never learned that calculating economy which provides a great deal with very small means.
Hence it was much harder for her to support herself and child, than it would have been for one who had been brought up in a hovel.
She had done very well, however, until, a few months before our story opens, she had been taken sick, and was no longer able to work. Her disease was an affection of the spine, which was at times very painful, and confined her to the bed.
"But where is your father now?" asked Katy, when her mother had finished the narrative.
"I do not know; if he is alive, he probably lives in Liverpool."
"Why don't you write a letter to him?"
"I have done so several times, but have never received any reply. I wrote shortly after your father died, giving an account of my situation. I am sure my father never could have got my letter, or he would have answered me. I know he would not let me suffer here in woe and want, if he were aware of my condition."
"Why don't you write again?"
"It is useless."
"Let me write, mother. I will call him dear grandfather, and I am sure he will send you some money then: perhaps he will send for us to go to Liverpool, and live in his great house, and have servants to wait upon us."
"Alas, my child, I have given up all hope of ever seeing him again in this world. In my letters I confessed my fault, and begged his forgiveness. He cannot be alive, or I am sure my last letters would have melted his heart."
"Haven't you any brothers and sisters, mother?"
"I had one sister; and I have written several letters to her, but with no better success. They may be all dead. I fear they are."
"And your mother?"
"She died when I was young. I know Jane would have answered my letters if she had received them."
"She was your sister?"
"Yes; she must be dead; and I suppose my father's property must be in the hands of strangers, covering their floors with soft carpets, and their tables with nice food, while I lie here in misery, and my poor child actually suffers from hunger;" and the afflicted mother clasped her daughter in her arms, and wept as though her heart would burst.
"Don't cry, mother. I was not very hungry. We have had enough to eat till to-day. I am going to take care of you now, you have taken care of me so long," replied Katy, as she wiped away the tears that flowed down her mother's wan cheek.
"What can you do, poor child?"
"I can do a great many things; I am sure I can earn money enough to support us both."
"It is hard to think how much I have suffered, and how much of woe there may be in the future for me," sobbed Mrs. Redburn.
"Don't cry, mother. You know what it says on the watch—'All for the Best.' Who knows but that all your sorrows are for the best?"
"I hope they are; I will try to think they are. But it is time for you to go. Pawn the watch for as much as you can; and I trust that some fortunate event will enable us to redeem it."
Katy took the watch, smoothed down her hair again, put on her worn-out bonnet, and left the house.
KATY AND MASTER SIMON SNEED VISIT THE PAWNBROKER'S SHOP.
The court in which Katy lived had once been the abode of many very respectable families, to use a popular word, for respectable does not always mean worthy of respect on account of one's virtues, but worthy of respect on account of one's lands, houses, and money. In the former sense it was still occupied by very respectable families, though none of them possessed much of the "goods that perish in the using" Mrs. Redburn, the seamstress, was very respectable; Mrs. Colvin, the washer-woman, was very respectable, so were Mrs. Howard, the tailoress, Mr. Brown, the lumper, and Mr. Sneed, the mason.
Katy's mother lived in a small house, with three other families. She occupied two rooms, for which she paid four dollars a month, the amount of rent now due and unpaid. Dr. Flynch took a great deal of pleasure in telling Mrs. Redburn how his humanity and his regard for the welfare of the poor had induced him to fix the rent at so cheap a rate; but he always finished by assuring her that this sum must be promptly paid, and that no excuses could ever have any weight.
The next house to Mrs. Redburn was tenanted by Mr. Sneed, the mason. I don't know whether I ought to say that Mr. Sneed had a son, or that Master Simon Sneed had a father, being at a loss to determine which was the more important personage of the two; but I am not going to say anything against either of them, for the father was a very honest mason and the son was a very nice young man.
Katy knocked at the door of this house, and inquired for Master Simon Sneed. She was informed that he had not yet finished his dinner; and she decided to wait in the court till he made his appearance. Seating herself on the door stone, she permitted her mind to wander back to the narrative her mother had related to her. She glanced at her coarse clothes, and could hardly believe that her grandfather was a rich merchant, and lived in a fine house. How nice it would be if she could only find the old gentleman! He could not be cross to her; he would give her all the money she could spend, and make a great lady of her.
"Pooh! what a fool I am to think of such a thing!" exclaimed she impatiently, as she rose from the door stone. "I am a beggar, and what right have I to think of being a fine lady, while my poor sick mother has nothing to eat and drink? It is very hard to be so poor, but I suppose it is all for the best."
"Do you want me, Katy?" said a voice from the door, which Katy recognized as that of Master Simon Sneed.
"I want to see you very much," replied Katy.
"Wait a moment, and I will join you."
And in a moment Master Simon Sneed did join her; but he is so much of a curiosity, and so much of a character, that I must stop to tell my young readers all about him.
Master Simon Sneed was about fifteen years old, and tall enough to have been two years older. He was very slim, and held his head very straight. In 1843, the period of which I write, it was the fashion for gentlemen to wear straps upon their pantaloons; and accordingly Master Simon Sneed wore straps on his pantaloons, though, it is true, the boys in the street used to laugh and hoot at him for doing so; but they were very ill-mannered boys, and could not appreciate the dignity of him they insulted.
Master Sneed's garments were not of the finest materials, but though he was a juvenile dandy, it was evident that it required a great deal of personal labor to make him such.
Clearly those straps were sewed on by himself, and clearly those cowhide shoes had been thus elaborately polished by no other hands than his own. In a word, the appearance of his clothes, coarse as was their texture, and unfashionable as was their cut, indicated the most scrupulous care. It was plain that he had a fondness for dress, which his circumstances did not permit him to indulge to any very great extent.
Master Simon Sneed was a great man in his own estimation; and, as he had read a great many exciting novels, and had a good command of language, he talked and acted like a great man. He could hold his own in conversation with older and wiser persons than himself. He could astonish almost any person of moderate pretensions by the largeness of his ideas; and, of late years, his father had not pretended to hold an argument with him, for Simon always overwhelmed him by the force and elegance of his rhetoric. He spoke familiarly of great men and great events.
His business relations—for Master Sneed was a business man—were not very complicated. According to his own reckoning, he was the chief person in the employ of Messrs. Sands & Co., wholesale and retail dry good Washington Street; one who had rendered immense service to the firm, and one without whom the firm could not possibly get along a single day; in short, a sort of Atlas, on whose broad shoulders the vast world of the Messrs. Sands & Co.'s affairs rested. But according to the reckoning of the firm, and the general understanding of people, Master Simon was a boy in the store, whose duty it was to make fires, sweep out, and carry bundles, and, in consideration of the fact that he boarded himself to receive two dollars and a half a week for his services. There was a vast difference between Master Simon Sneed's estimate of Masters Simon Sneed, and the Messrs. Sands & Co.'s idea of Master Simon Sneed.
But I beg my young friends not to let anything I have written create a prejudice against him, for he was really a very kind-hearted young man, and under certain circumstances would have gone a great way to oblige a friend. He had always been exceedingly well disposed towards Katy; perhaps it was because the simple-hearted little girl used to be so much astonished when he told her about his mercantile relations with the firm of Sands & Co.; and how he managed all their business for them after the store was closed at night, and before the front door was unlocked in the morning; how he went to the bank after immense sums of money; and how the firm would have to give up business if he should die, or be obliged to leave them. Katy believed that Master Simon was a great man, and she wondered how his long, slim arms could accomplish so much labor, and how his small head could hold such a heap of magnificent ideas. But Master Simon, notwithstanding his elevated position in the firm, was condescending to her; he had more than once done her a favor and had always expressed a lively interest in her welfare. Therefore she did not scruple to apply to him in the present emergency.
"Well, Katy, in what manner can I serve you?" inquired Simon, as he elevated his head, and stood picking his teeth before her.
"I want you to do something for me very much indeed."
"State your business, Katy."
"Dr. Flynch has been to our house to-day, and wants the rent; mother hasn't any money——"
"And you wish me to lend you the amount?" continued Simon, when Katy hesitated to reveal the family trouble. "It is really unfortunate, Katy; it is after bank hours now, and I don't see that I can accommodate you."
"O, I don't want to borrow the money."
"Ah, you don't."
"I have got a watch here, which belonged to my father; and I want to pawn it for the money to pay the rent."
"Well, it is rather out of our line of business to lend money on collateral."
"I don't want you to lend it. I want you to take it to the pawnbroker's. Mother says I am so young and so small that they might cheat me; and I thought perhaps, may be, you'd be so kind as to go with me."
"Go with you!" exclaimed Master Simon, as he eyed her coarse, ill-made garments.
"I thought you would," replied Katy, with a look of disappointment.
"Well, Katy, I shall be very glad to assist you in this matter, but——"
Master Simon paused, and glanced again at the unfashionable dress of the suppliant. He was, as he said, willing to aid her; but the idea of the principal personage of the house of Sands & Co. walking through the streets of the great city with such an ill-dressed young lady was absurd, and not to be tolerated. Master Sneed reflected. It is undoubtedly true that "where there is a will there is a way."
"Where do you wish to go?" demanded he.
"I don't know."
"Do you know where Brattle Street is?"
"I don't, but I can find it."
"Very well; important business in another street requires my personal attention for a moment, but I will join you in Brattle Street in a quarter of an hour, and attend you to a pawnbroker's."
Master Sneed gave her directions so that she could find the street, and at the end of the court, as she turned one way, he turned the other.
Katy was first at the appointed place of meeting, where Simon soon joined her; and directing her to follow him, he led the way into another street, and entered a shop.
"This young person wishes to raise some money on a watch," said Simon, as he directed the attention of the astonished broker to Katy, who was scarcely tall enough to be seen over the high counter.
"Let me see it."
Katy handed up the watch, which the money lender opened and carefully examined. His practised eye soon discovered that the works of the watch were of the best quality.
"Where did you get this?" asked the broker.
"My mother gave it to me;" and Katy told without reserve the pitiful story of want and destitution which compelled Mrs. Redburn to part with the cherished memento of the past.
"I will give you three dollars for the watch," added the broker.
"Come, come, sir," interposed Master Simon, with a smile; "that is a little too bad. A gentleman of your judgment and discretion has already assured himself that the article is worth at least twenty."
The broker drew a long breath after this speech, and seemed very much impressed by the style of the remark. But Katy declared she did not want to sell the watch, only to pawn it.
"Your story is not a very plausible one," said the broker, "and there is some risk in taking it."
"I give you my personal assurance, on honor that her story is all true," added Simon.
The broker burst out into a loud laugh. He could not stand Simon's fine speeches, and would not take the watch at any rate; so they departed to find another place, and entered a shop close by.
"Where did you get this?" asked the broker sourly, and Katy repeated her story, and Simon vouched for its truth.
"It is all a lie," exclaimed the broker, "I will put the watch into my safe and hand it over to the police."
"This is a most extraordinary proceeding," protested Master Simon.
"Get out of the shop, both of you, or I will hand you over to the police! You stole the watch, and have the audacity to bring it into the shop of an honest man. I don't buy stolen goods."
Katy began to cry, as the last hope of redemption from the fangs of Dr. Flynch fled. Even Master Simon Sneed was alarmed at the idea of being handed over to the police; but his sense of dignity compelled him to enter his earnest protest, against the proceeding of the broker, and even to threaten him with the terrors of the law. The money-lender repeated his menace, and even went to the door, for the apparent purpose of putting it into execution.
"Come, Katy, let us go; but I assure you I will represent this outrage to my friend the mayor, in such a manner that entire justice shall be done you," whispered Simon. "I cannot remain any longer away from my business, or I would recover the watch at once."
"O, dear! my poor mother!" sobbed Katy.
"Don't cry, my child; leave it all to me, and run home as fast as you can. You shall have the watch again, for I will call in the whole police force of Boston to your aid;" and Master Simon ran away to attend to the affairs of Sands & Co., which Katy innocently concluded must be suffering by this time from his absence.
Poor Katy! with a heavy heart she wandered home to tell her mother of this new misfortune.
KATY MATURES A MAGNIFICENT SCHEME.
"I suppose it is all for the best, mother," said Katy, when she had told her sad story of disappointment. "I can't get those words out of my head, since you have told me about my father. I feel just as though everything would come out right, it does go very bad just now."
"I am glad you feel so, Katy," added Mrs. Redburn. "It will make you much better contented with your lot. I have suffered so much that I cannot help repining a little, though I feel that my destiny and yours is in the hands of the wise Father, who bringeth good out of evil."
Katy had not yet reached that spirit of meek submission to the will of Heaven which looks upward in the hour of trial, not doubting that the all-wise God knows best what is for the good of his children. If she believed that misfortunes were all for the best, it was only an impulse derived from the story of her father; a kind of philosophy which was very convenient for the evil day, because it permitted the sufferer to lie down and take things easily. It was not a filial trust in the wisdom and mercy of the heavenly Father that sustained her as the clouds grew thicker and blacker around her; it was only a cold indifference, a feeling of the head rather than the heart.
But Mrs. Redburn had been reading the New Testament during Katy's absence, and a better and purer spirit pervaded her soul than when the weight of the blow first struck so heavily upon her. She was well educated, and capable of reasoning in a just manner over her misfortunes; and those words on the watch seemed to convey a new meaning to her, as she considered them in the light of Christian revelation. They were not the basis of a cold philosophy; they assured her of the paternal care of God. The thought strengthened and revived her, and when Katy appeared to announce a new trial, she received the intelligence with calmness, and felt more ready than ever before to leave her destiny in the hands of Heaven. For an hour she conversed with Katy on this subject, and succeeded in giving her some new views in relation to the meaning of the words she had so often repeated that afternoon.
The poor girl felt as she had never felt before. Upon her devolved the responsibility of providing for her mother. She had no other friend, and that day seemed to open a new era in her existence. She felt strong for the work before her, and resolved to lose not a single day in putting her resolution into operation. The teachings of her mother, breathing a spirit of piety and resignation, were grateful to her heart, and added new strength to her arm.
There was still food enough in the house for Katy's supper, for her mother could not eat, though she drank a cup of tea. The morning sun would shine upon them again, bringing another day of want and wretchedness, but the poor girl banished her fears, trusting for the morrow to Him who feedeth the hungry raven, and tempereth the wind to the shorn lamb.
She laid her head upon her pillow that night, not to sleep for many a weary hour, but to think of the future; not of its sorrows and treasured ills, but of the golden opportunities it would afford her to do something for her sick mother. At one o'clock the next day Dr. Flynch would come for the rent again and her mother could not pay him. She felt assured he was cold and cruel enough to execute his wicked threat to turn them out of the house, though her mother had not been off her bed for many weeks. What could be done? They could not pay the rent; that was impossible; and she regarded it as just as impossible to melt the heart of Dr. Flynch. But long before she went to sleep she had decided what to do.
Worn out with fatigue and anxiety, she did not wake till a late hour; and her mother, who had kept a weary vigil all night, was glad to see her sleep so well, and did not arouse her. She was refreshed by her deep slumbers, and got up feeling like a new creature. She had scarcely made a fire and put on the tea-kettle, before a knock at the door startled her. Who could wish to see them in their poverty and want?—who but some evil person, coming to heap some new grief upon them? She scarcely had the courage to open the door, but when she did so, she saw the smiling face of Tommy Howard.
"Good morning, Katy," said he, as he handed her a little basket he had brought. "Mother sent this over, and wants to know how Mrs. Redburn does to-day."
"She is about the same. What is in this basket, Tommy?"
"O, you know;" and he turned to run away.
"Stop a minute, Tommy," called Katy. "I want to speak to you."
"Well, what is it?"
"You haven't told anybody about it—have you?"
"What I told you yesterday," replied Katy, hanging her head with shame.
"What do you mean?"
"That we had nothing to eat," and Katy blushed as though it was a crime to be hungry and have nothing to eat.
"Not a soul—catch me! that is, I hain't told nobody but mother."
"I am sorry you did, even her. My mother is very proud, if she is poor; but she wasn't always so poor as she is now, for she is the daughter of a rich merchant."
"You don't say so."
"Yes, I do, Tommy; so please don't say a word about it to anybody but your mother, and ask her not to mention it."
"Not a word, Katy, mother won't say a word either."
"And sometime I'll tell you all about it. Thank you for what's in the basket, Tommy."
Without waiting for anything more, the noble, generous boy leaped down the stairs and passed out at the front door.
"What have you got there, Katy?" asked Mrs. Redburn, as she entered the room with the basket in her hand.
"Something Mrs. Howard sent us," she replied, as she opened the basket, and took out a plate of butter and half a dozen hot biscuit, which she carried to the bedside for her mother's inspection.
"What have you done, my child?" exclaimed the poor woman, a flush gathering on her pale cheek. "Have you told the neighbors that we have nothing to eat?"
"I couldn't help telling Tommy when I asked for the flounders yesterday; he told his mother, but no one else knows it."
"I had rather starve than beg, Katy; but I cannot compel you to do so."
"I will not beg."
"Then let us send those cakes back."
"No, mother; we must not be so proud as that. I think that God sent us this food through Mrs. Howard, and it would be wicked to reject His bounty."
"Do as you please, Katy."
"Some time we shall be able to pay her; and that will make it all right."
Mrs. Redburn could not taste the biscuit, but Katy ate heartily. Her pride was not inflated by the remembrance of brighter days. All she had was inherited from her mother.
After breakfast she put on her bonnet and left the house, assuring her mother she should be back by twelve o'clock. She would not tell her where she was going, but evaded her questions, and got away as soon as she could.
As she passed down Washington Street, she stopped before the store of Sands & Co., for she wanted to see Master Simon Sneed. She did not like to enter the store; so she waited on the sidewalk for half an hour, hoping he would come out. As he did not appear, her impatience would not permit her to lose any more time, and she timidly opened the door, and inquired of the first salesman she saw if Mister Sneed was in.
"Mister Sneed!" laughed the clerk. "Here, Simon, is one of your friends. Wait upon her."
Simon, with a flushed cheek, came to the door. He was horrified at the insinuation of the salesman and wished Katy had been on the other side of the ocean before she had come there to scandalize him by claiming his acquaintance.
"What do you want now?" he demanded, rather rudely. "Is it not enough that I am willing to help you, without your coming here to bring me into contempt with my associates?"
"I didn't think there was any harm in it. I waited outside for half an hour, and you didn't come out."
"I can't leave the affairs of this firm to attend to every little——" and Master Simon's naturally good heart prevented him from uttering the unkind words that had been on his tongue. "I suppose you come to know about the watch. I haven't had time to call upon the mayor yet, but I will do so at dinner time."
"I only wanted to ask you if you know where Mrs. Gordon lives," replied Katy, very sad at the thought of the mischief she had done.
"She lives in Temple Street, over back of the State House. What do you want of her?"
"I want to see her. Do you suppose you can get that watch back?"
"I'm certain I can. When my friend the mayor hears my story, you may depend upon it he will get the watch, or upset all the pawn-brokers' shops in the city."
"Are you acquainted with the mayor?" asked Katy, timidly, for, since the adventure of the previous day, she had entertained some slight doubts in regard to the transcendent abilities of Master Simon Sneed.
"Certainly I am. It was only last week that I had a long and extremely interesting conversation with his honor on the sidewalk here before the store."
Katy was satisfied, though Simon did not offer to introduce her to his distinguished friend. How could she help being satisfied in the face of such astounding evidence? And Simon's declaration was true, for whatever faults he had, he never made up a story out of whole cloth. It was undeniably true that he had conversed with the mayor for ten full minutes, at the time and place represented. Simon had been sent out to hold his honor's horse, while a lady with him did some shopping; but his honor preferred to hold his own horse, and amused himself for the time in listening to the big talk of the nice young man.
After receiving more explicit directions in regard to the residence of Mrs. Gordon, Katy took her leave of Simon. Next door to Sands & Co.'s was the store of a celebrated confectioner. In the window, with sundry sugar temples, cob houses of braided candy and stacks of cake, was a great heap of molasses candy; and as Katy paused for an instant to gaze at the profusion of sweet things, a great thought struck through her brain.
"Mother used to make molasses candy for me, and I know just how it is done," said she to herself. "What is the reason I can't make candy and sell it?"
She walked on towards School Street, up which she had been directed to turn, full of this idea. She would become a little candy merchant. She felt sure she could find purchasers enough, if her merchandise only looked clean and good. It was a great deal better than begging, and she thought her mother would consent to her making and selling the candy. What a glorious idea! If she could only make money enough to support her mother and herself, how happy she should be!
Full of enthusiasm at the idea of accomplishing such a vast project, she scarcely heeded the crowds of people that thronged the street and rudely jostled her. If she saw them at all, it was only to regard them as so many purchasers of molasses candy. With her brain almost reeling with the immensity and magnificence of her scheme, she reached Temple Street. After a little search, she found the number of Mrs. Gordon's residence on a splendid house, whose grandness quite abashed her. But her courage revived as she thought of the purpose that had brought her there, and she boldly rang the bell. The door was opened by a servant man in a white jacket, of whom she inquired if Mrs. Gordon was at home.
"Mrs. Gordon is at home, but we don't trouble her at the call of a beggar," replied the well-fed servant as he glanced at the homely apparel of Katy.
"I am not a beggar," she replied, with spirit, her cheek reddening with indignation at the charge.
"You can't see her; so go about your business."
"Who is it Michael?" said a gentle voice within.
"Only a beggar, Miss Grace; she wants to see Mrs. Gordon," replied the man; and then a beautiful young lady came to look at her.
"I am not a beggar, ma'am; indeed I am not. I want to see Mrs. Gordon very much. Please to let me speak to her."
The sweet, pleading tones of the child produced their impression on the beautiful lady, and she bade her come in. Katy entered, and Michael told her to stand in the entry while Miss Grace went up-stairs to call Mrs. Gordon.
KATY VISITS MRS. GORDON, AND GETS RID OF DR. FLYNCH.
Katy gazed with wonder and admiration at the rich furniture of the house, and thought that perhaps her grandfather lived in as good style as Mrs. Gordon, and that she might some day go to Liverpool and be an inmate of just such a palace. The door of the sitting-room was open, and she had an opportunity to look at all the fine things it contained. She had never seen anything so luxurious before, and I must say that she regretted the poverty of her lot, which deprived her mother and herself of them.
All round the room hung pictures in costly frames. Some of them were portraits; and one which hung over the mantelpiece directly before her, soon attracted her attention, and made her forget the soft divans, the beautiful carpet, and the rich draperies of the windows. It was the portrait of a lady, and her expression was very like that of her mother—so like that she could almost believe the picture had been painted for her mother. Yet that could not be, for the lady was young, and plump, and rosy, and wore rich laces, and a costly dress. She seemed to look down upon her from the golden frame with a smile of satisfaction. There was something roguish in her eye, as though she was on the point of bursting into a laugh at some mischief she had perpetrated. O, no! that could not be her mother; she had never seen her look like that. But there was something that seemed very much like her; and the more she looked at it, the more the picture fascinated her. She tried to look at something else, but the lady appeared to have fixed her gaze upon her, and, whichever way she turned, those laughing eyes followed her, and brought back her attention to the canvas again.
In vain she attempted to fasten her mind upon some of the other portraits. There was an elderly gentleman, with a full red face; but the jealous lady would not let her look at him. She turned round and looked out the windows at the side of the door; but the spell of the lady was upon her, and she could not resist the charm. The more she studied the portrait, the more convinced she became that it looked like her mother, though there was something about it which was as unlike her as anything could be. "What makes you keep looking at me?" said Katy to herself, or rather to the lady on the canvas. "You needn't watch me so closely; I shall not steal anything."
The lady, however, insisted on watching her, and kept her roguish glance fixed upon her with a steadiness that began to make her feel nervous and uneasy; and she was greatly relieved when she heard footsteps on the stairs.
"Mrs. Gordon will be down in a moment," said Miss Grace, in kind tones. "Won't you come into this room and sit down?"
Katy thanked her, and Grace led her to a small chair directly under the mischievous-looking lady in the frame; and she felt a kind of satisfaction in being placed out of her sight. But it seemed, even then, as she cast a furtive glance upward, that those roguish eyes were trying to peer over the picture frame, and get a look at her.
"Well, little girl, what do you wish with me?" said Mrs. Gordon, a benevolent looking lady, apparently of more than forty years of age, who now entered the room.
The expression of her countenance was very pleasant, and though there were a few wrinkles on her brow and she wore a lace cap, Katy came to the conclusion that the portrait had been taken for her. She wondered if such a dignified lady could ever have been so roguish as the picture indicated.
"Please, ma'am," stammered she, rising from her chair, "I come to see you about the house we live in."
"What is your name, child?"
"Katy Redburn, ma'am."
"In what house do you live in?"
"In one of yours in Colvin Court. Mother is a poor woman, and has been sick so much this summer that she can't pay the rent."
"I am very sorry for you, my child, but I refer you to my agent, Dr. Flynch. I do not like to meddle with these things, as I have given him the whole care of my houses. You will find him a very good man, and one who will be willing to consider your case. He will extend to you all the lenity your case requires."
"We have told Dr. Flynch all about it, ma'am and he says if the rent is not paid by one o'clock to-day, he shall turn us out of the house."
"Indeed!" exclaimed Mrs. Gordon; and Grace actually jumped out of her chair with astonishment and indignation.
"Yes, ma'am; that's just what he said," added Katy, satisfied with the impression she had produced.
"Is your mother ill now?" asked Mrs. Gordon.
"Yes ma'am; she has not been off her bed for twelve weeks."
"What does Dr. Flynch say, my child?"
"He says my mother deceived him; that she told him a falsehood; and that she had money, when she didn't have a cent."
"It is too bad, mother!" exclaimed Grace.
"Hush, Grace; probably Dr. Flynch knows best, for he certainly would not turn a poor sick woman out of doors because she did not pay the rent. There may be, as he says, some deception about it, which he can penetrate and we cannot."
"There is no deception about it, ma'am," pleaded Katy, much disturbed by this sudden damper upon her hopes. "She has not got a single cent. She wouldn't tell a lie, and I wouldn't either."
There was something in the eloquence and earnestness of the child that deeply impressed the mind of the lady, and she could hardly resist the conclusion that her agent had, in this instance, made a mistake. But she had great confidence in Dr. Flynch, and she was very unwilling to believe that he could be so harsh and cruel as the little girl represented. She had heard of the tricks of the vicious poor, and while she was disposed to be very tender of a needy tenant, she must be just to her agent.
"It is now half-past ten," continued Mrs. Gordon.
"You shall remain here, my child, and I will send Michael down to Colvin Court to inquire into the situation of your mother. He must be impartial for he knows nothing about the case."
"Thank you, ma'am," said Katy, with a promptness which assured Grace, if not her mother, that the little girl was honest.
Mrs. Gordon rang the bell, and when Michael answered the summons, she attended him to the street door, where she instructed him to call upon Mrs. Redburn, and also to inquire of the grocer at the corner, and of her neighbors, what sort of a person she was. The lady returned to the sitting-room when he had gone, and asked Katy a great many questions about herself and her mother, and thus nearly an hour was consumed, at the end of which time Michael returned. Katy had answered all the lady's questions fairly, though without betraying her family history, which her mother had cautioned her to keep to herself, that she was prepared to receive a favorable report from her man.
"Well, Michael, did you find the woman at home?" asked Mrs. Gordon, as the man presented himself.
"Indeed, I deed, marm."
"What was she doing?"
"She was fast in bed, and told me she hadn't been out of it for twelve weeks come Saturday."
"What does the grocer say?"
"He says she is a very good woman, but poor and proud. She always paid him every cent she owed him, and he'd trust her for half he has in his shop."
"That will do, Michael; you may go;" and the man retired with a respectful bow.
Katy's face wore a smile of triumph, as Michael was dismissed. Her mother's truthfulness had been vindicated, and it was the proudest moment she had known for many a day.
"How long has your mother lived in my house?" asked Mrs. Gordon.
"About three years, ma'am; and she always paid her rent till this month," replied Katy.
"If she had not, Dr. Flynch would have turned her into the street," added Grace; and it was evident the beautiful young lady had no special regard for that worthy gentleman.
"We have tried hard enough to pay the rent this month," continued Katy; and she proceeded to tell the story of the silver watch, that had belonged to her father.
"This is dreadful, mother; let us do something about it," said Grace. "What a wretch the broker must have been!"
"We will endeavor to get the watch back for her," replied Mrs. Gordon, as she seated herself at a table and wrote a few lines on a piece of paper. "Here, my child, is a receipt for your month's rent. When Dr. Flynch comes for the money, you show him this, and he will be satisfied;" and she handed her the receipt.
Katy took it, and thanked the good lady, assuring her that her mother would certainly pay the money as soon as she got well.
"My mother is poor and proud, just as the grocer said, and she don't ask any one to give her anything. I am going to earn some money myself, and I hope I shall be able to pay the next month's rent," added Katy, as she moved towards the door.
"But the watch, mother?" interposed Grace.
"If the little girl will come here this afternoon or to-morrow morning, we will take her to the mayor who will have the case attended to."
"I will come any time, ma'am."
"The mayor is my friend, and I will call at his house with you this afternoon at three o'clock."
Katy could not but think the mayor had a great many friends, for there was Master Simon Sneed, and Mrs. Gordon, and she knew not how many more. She thanked the lady very warmly for her kindness, and promising to come at the time stated, she took her leave.
She was followed to the door by Grace, who detained her there.
"Katy, I am sure you are a very good little girl, and here is a dollar for you. It will buy something good for your mother."
"I thank you very much, Miss Gordon. I am poor, but proud, like my mother," replied she, as a flush of shame mantled her cheek.
"What a foolish little girl!" laughed Grace. "Take it; you will oblige me very much by taking it."
"No, ma'am, I can't; my mother wouldn't own me if I should take money as a gift."
"But you must take it, Katy; I shall be angry if you don't."
The little girl looked up into her pretty eyes beaming with pity and love; and she could hardly resist the temptation to oblige her by accepting the gift; but since she had heard the story of her mother's life, she understood why she was so much prouder than other poor people; and as she thought of her grandfather in his fine house in the great city of Liverpool, she felt a little of the same spirit—she too was poor and proud. Besides, as Grace jingled the two half dollars together, there was a harmony in the sound that suggested a great heap of good things for her mother. And there was another powerful consideration that weighed with great force upon her mind. One of those half dollars would be a sufficient capital upon which to commence her candy speculation. It would buy ever so much molasses of the very best quality. As she thought of this, she was disposed, at least, to compromise with Miss Grace.
"I cannot accept the money as a gift, but you may lend it to me, if you please," said Katy, after she had reflected a moment.
"Just as you like," laughed Grace; "but I shall not feel bad if you never pay me."
"I shall certainly pay it again," persisted the embryo candy merchant. "I would not take it if I thought I could not."
"Very well; but you must know I think you are a very singular little girl."
"I am poor and proud; that's all."
Katy took the loan, and with her fancy fired with brilliant expectations in regard to the candy operation, ran home to her mother as fast as her feet would carry her. Mrs. Redburn was much displeased with her at first for what she had done. Her pride revolted at the thought of begging a favor; but Katy explained the matter so well that she was satisfied, though nothing was said about the loan she had obtained.
Punctually at the appointed hour came Dr. Flynch for the rent.
"Have you got the money?" he demanded in his usual bland tones, though Katy thought she could see a wicked purpose in his little gray eye.
"No, sir; but——"
"That's all I desire to know, Mrs. Redburn," interrupted the agent. "You must leave the house."
"But, sir, I have something that will do as well as the money," added the sick woman.
"Have you, indeed?" sneered Dr. Flynch "I think not."
"Will you read that, sir?" said Katy, handing him Mrs. Gordon's receipt.
The agent took the paper, and as he read, the wonted serenity of his brow was displaced by a dark scowl. His threats had been disregarded, and he had been reported to his employer.
"So you have been fawning and cringing upon Mrs. Gordon," growled he. "Probably you have told her more lies than you dared tell me."
"I told her nothing but the truth, and she sent her man down here to find out all about us, said Katy, smartly.
"Very well; this paper will only delay the matter for a few days; when I have exposed you to her, she will acquiesce in my views;" and Dr. Flynch threw down the receipt and left the house.
"We are well rid of him, at any rate," said Katy.
"Now I will get you some dinner, for I must be at Mrs. Gordon's at three o'clock; and I want to tell you about my plan too, mother."
The active little girl made a cup of tea for her mother, and the dinner was soon dispatched.
KATY PREPARES A STOCK OF MERCHANDISE.
Katy had not time then to tell her mother about the candy speculation she had in view, and she was obliged to wait till her return from Temple Street. Promptly at the hour, she presented herself at Mrs. Gordon's, and they went to the house of the mayor; but that distinguished gentleman was not at home, and the lady promised to go again with her the next day.
As she walked home, she thought of what she should say to her mother in favor of the candy project, for she felt sure her mother's pride would throw many obstacles in her path. The best argument she could think of was, that the business would be an honest calling and though she was too proud to beg, she was not too proud to work, or to take a very humble position among the people around her. She did not look upon the act of selling candy to the passers-by in the streets as degrading in itself, and therein she differed very widely from her mother, who had been brought up in ease and affluence. Before she got home she had made up her mind what she should say, and how she should defend her plan from the assaults of pride.
"Now, mother, you shall hear my plan," she continued, after she had announced the ill success of her visit to the mayor's house. "I am going into business, and I expect to make a great deal of money."
"Are you, indeed?" replied Mrs. Redburn, smiling at the enthusiasm of her daughter.
"I am; and you must not be angry with me, or object very much to my plan."
"Well, what is your plan?"
"I am going to sell candy," said Katy, pausing to notice the effect of this startling declaration. "You know what nice molasses candy you used to make for me. Mrs. Sneed and Mrs. Colvin said a great many times that it was a good deal better than they could buy at the shops."
"But, child, I am not able to make candy now. I cannot get off my bed."
"I will make it; you shall lay there and tell me how. I am sure I can make it."
"It is very hard work to pull it."
"I won't mind that."
"Suppose you can make it, how will you sell it?" asked Mrs. Redburn, casting an anxious glance at the enthusiastic little girl.
"O, I shall take a box, and offer it to the folks that pass along the streets."
"Are you crazy, Katy?" exclaimed the mother, raising her head on the bed. "Do you think I could permit you to do such a thing?"
"Why not, mother?"
"What a life for a child to lead! Do you think I could let you wander about the streets exposed to the insults and rude jests of the vicious and thoughtless? You do not understand what you propose."
"I think I do, mother. I don't see any harm in selling candy to those who are willing to buy."
"Perhaps there is no harm in the mere act of selling candy; but what a life for you to lead! It makes me shudder to think of it."
"It is your pride, mother."
"I am thankful I have: some pride left, Katy."
"But mother, we can't be poor and proud. We haven't got any money to proud with."
"I am proud, I know; I wish I could banish it," replied Mrs. Redburn, with a deep sigh.
"Let me try the plan, mother, and if I can't get along with it, I will give it up."
"It will subject you to a great many trials and temptations."
"I can manage them, mother."
"Can you submit to the insults of evil-minded persons?"
"Yes, mother; no decent person would insult me and I don't care for others. I can pity them, and run away from them. I am not afraid of anything. Do let me try."
Mrs. Redburn saw that Katy was too earnest to be thwarted; that, impelled by a noble purpose, she had set her heart upon making the attempt, and she did not like to disappoint her. It is true, she keenly felt the degradation of such a life, and even feared that Katy might be led astray while pursuing such an occupation; but she gave a reluctant consent, trusting that one or two experiments would disgust her with the business.
Katy clapped her hands with joy as her mother's scruples gave way, and she found herself at liberty to carry her plan into execution. It seemed to her as though she had crossed the threshold of fortune and had actually entered the great temple. She had an opportunity to accomplish a great work, and her enthusiasm would not permit her to doubt in regard to her final success.
"I must begin now, mother, and make all the candy this afternoon, so that I can commence selling it early to-morrow morning. I will go to the grocery now and get the molasses."
"Poor child; you have nothing to get it with. We have no money; you did not think of that."
"Yes, I did, and I have the money to buy the molasses. I borrowed it," replied Katy, evincing some confusion.
"You borrowed it? Pray who would lend you money?"
"Miss Grace Gordon."
"Did you borrow it, Katy?" asked Mrs. Redburn, casting a reproachful glance at her.
"Yes, mother, I did. I would not accept money now, after what you have said to me. Miss Grace wanted to give it to me; but I told her I could not take it. She laughed at me, and I said I was poor and proud. She would make me take it, and said so much, that, at last, I told her if she would lend it to me, I would take it."
"It was the same as a gift," said Mrs. Redburn, blushing with shame at the thought of accepting alms.
"No, it wasn't; she may think it was, but I mean to pay her, and I shall pay her; I know I shall."
"If you can," sighed the proud mother.
"I shall be able to pay her soon, for I mean to sell lots of candy."
"You may be disappointed."
"No: I am sure I shall sell a good deal; I mean to make people buy. I shall talk up smart to them just as the shopkeepers do; I am going to tell them what candy it is, and that their little sons and daughters will like it very much."
"You are beside yourself, Katy. It pains me to hear you talk so. It is sad to think a child of mine should relish such an employment as that in which you are going to engage."
"Do you remember the book my Sunday-school teacher gave me last New Year's day, mother? It was all about false pride; I want you to read it, mother. We can't afford to be so proud."
"Go and get your molasses. Katy," replied Mrs. Redburn, who could not but acknowledge the truth of her daughter's remarks.
She had read the book alluded to, and was not willing to confront the arguments it had put in the mouth of her child. She was conscious that her pride, which made a humble occupation repulsive to her, was a false pride. If it could have been carried on in private, it would not have seemed so galling. For years she had been a recluse from society, mingling only with her humble neighbors, and with them no more than her circumstances required. She had labored in solitude, and shunned observation as much as possible, by carrying her work back and forth in the evening. Years of hard toil had not familiarized her with the circumstances of her lot. She tried to be humble and submissive, but the memory of her early days could not be driven away.
Katy returned in a few minutes with the jug of molasses. She bustled round and made up a good fire, got the kettle on, and everything in readiness for the work. Her mother gave her directions how to proceed; but Katy could impart to her none of her own enthusiasm.
When the molasses had been cooked enough, she was ready to commence the pulling, which was the most difficult part in the manufacture of her merchandise. Then she found that her trials had indeed commenced. At first the sticky mass, in spite of the butter and the flour with which she had plentifully daubed her hands, was as obstinate as a mule. It would not work one way or another; now it melted down, and stuck to her fingers, and then it became as solid as a rock. She fretted some at these crosses, and as her spirits sank, her mother's rose, for she thought Katy's resolution would not hold out long enough for her to complete the experiment. But she underrated the energy of the devoted girl, who, in the face of every discouragement, stuck to the candy with as much zeal as the candy stuck to her.
As is almost always the case with those who persevere to the end, Katy soon won a partial triumph, which gladdened her heart, and gave her courage to continue her trying labors. She had worked a portion of the mass into candy—clear, light-colored, inviting candy. Columbus felt no prouder of his achievement when he had crossed the Atlantic, or, Napoleon when he had crossed the Alps. She danced for joy as she gazed upon the clear, straight sticks of candy, as they were arranged in the pan. It was a great conquest for her; but at what a sacrifice it had been won! Her little hands, unused to such hard work, were blistered in a dozen places, and smarted as though they had been scalded with boiling water. She showed them to her mother, who begged her not to do any more; but she had too much enthusiasm to be deterred by the smart of her wounds, and resolutely resumed her labor.
She had scarcely commenced upon the second mass before she was interrupted by the entrance of Mrs. Howard, her friend Tommy's mother.
"Why, what are you doing, child?" asked the good woman. "I thought you were all sick, and here you are making candy, as merry as on a feast day."
"I am making it to sell, Mrs. Howard," replied Katy, proudly.
"Bless me! but you're a queer child! Do you think folks will buy it of you?"
"I know they will;" and Katy detailed her plan to the interested neighbor, declaring she was sure she could support her mother and herself by making and selling candy. "But it is very hard work," she added; "see how I've blistered my hands."
"Poor child! it's enough to kill you!" exclaimed Mrs. Howard, as she glanced at the great blisters on Katy's hands.
"I have been trying to make her give up the idea, but she has more courage than I ever gave her credit for," remarked Mrs. Redburn.
"It's a shame for you to hurt your hands in this manner; but I dare say that they will soon get hard, like mine, with the labor," replied Mrs. Howard, as she threw off her hood and rolled up her sleeves. "Here, child, let me help you."
"You are very kind, ma'am; and I hope I shall be able to do something for you some time."
"Never you mind that; you are a nice girl, and it does my heart good to see you trying to help your mother," added the kind woman, as she detached a large mass of candy, and commenced pulling it with a vigor that astonished the weak-handed little girl. "You're a jewel and a blessing, and you're worth a dozen of the fine ladies that are too proud to lift a finger to keep their bodies from starving. Ah, it's a dreadful misfortune to be proud."
"To be poor and proud," said Mrs. Redburn.
"You are right, ma'am; and I am glad to see you have none of it here; for some of your neighbors used to say you were too proud to speak to them."
Mrs. Redburn made no reply, and permitted her kind neighbor, whose tongue scarcely ceased to swing for a moment, to continue her remarks without opposition. She and Katy worked with all their might till the candy was ready for market, and when the poor invalid poured out her thanks, she ran off and left them.
The exultation with which Katy regarded her plentiful stock of merchandise almost caused her to forget her smarting hands; and when she could no longer keep her eyes open, she went to sleep to dream of great operations in molasses candy on change next day.
KATY MAKES A LARGE SALE.
Katy rose the next morning bright and early, and her heart was full of hope. She felt that she had a great work to perform, and she was going forth to do it, resolved that no obstacle should turn her back. Her mother had told her that she would be laughed at, and made fun of; that thoughtless people would look down upon her with contempt, and that wicked ones would insult her. She was, therefore, prepared for all these trials, but she had braced herself up to meet them with courage and fortitude.
Her mother was sick, and they were actually in a suffering condition. What right had she to be proud in her poverty? She felt able to support her mother, and she could find no excuse, if she wished to do so, for not supporting her. It was her duty, therefore, to sell candy if she could get money by it; and thus consideration strengthened her heart.
Katy had been to the public school and to the Sunday school until her mother was taken sick; and though she was only eleven years old, she had a very good idea of her moral and religious duties. "Honor thy father and thy mother," the commandment says; and she could think of no better way to obey the divine precept than to support her mother when there was no one else upon whom she could rely. Little by little their earthly possessions had passed away. Mrs. Redburn had never learned how to save money; and when the day of adversity came, her funds were soon exhausted. She had no friends to whom she dared reveal her poverty, and when want came to the door, she was too proud to beg. Hoping for better days, she had sold most of her best dresses, and those of Katy. The small sums raised by these sacrifices were soon used up; and when the daughter could no longer make a decent appearance, she was required to show herself much more than ever before. Katy did not repine at this, though her mother did, for their pride, as my young friends have discovered, was of very different kinds.
Katy did wish she had a little better dress, and a little better bonnet for her first attempt in the mercantile calling; but there was no help for it. She had mended her clothes as well as she could, and as they were clean, she was pretty well satisfied with her personal appearance. Besides, people would not be half so apt to buy her candy if she were well dressed, as if she were rather plainly clothed. In short, it was all for the best.
After breakfast she prepared herself for the duties of the day. Her heart beat violently with anxiety and expectation, and while she was placing the candy on the tray, which she had previously covered with white paper to render her wares the more inviting, her mother gave her a long lecture on the trials and difficulties in her path, and the proper way to encounter them.
"Now, my dear child," said Mrs. Redburn, in conclusion "if any evil person insults you, do not resent it, but run away as fast as you can."
"Shan't I say anything, mother?"
"Not a word."
"But if some naughty boy or girl, no bigger than I am myself, should be saucy to me, I think I can give them as good as they send."
"Don't do it, Katy."
"They have no business to insult me."
"That is very true; but when you use bad or violent language to them, you go down to their level."
"But if they begin it?"
"No matter, Katy; if they are unkind and wicked, it is no reason that you should be unkind and wicked. If you leave them without resenting their insults, the chances are that they will be ashamed of themselves before you get out of sight. You need not be low and vile because others are."
"I guess you are right, mother."
"You know what the Bible says: 'If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink, for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.'"
"I won't say a word, mother, whatever they say to me. I'll be as meek as Moses."
"I hope you will not be gone long," added Mrs. Redburn.
"I have thirty sticks of candy here. I don't think it will take me long to sell the whole of them. I shall be back by dinner time whether I sell them or not for you know I must go to Mrs. Gordon again to-day. Now, good-by, mother, and don't you worry about me, for I will do everything just as though you were looking at me."
Katy closed the door behind her, and did not see the great tears that slid down her mother's pale cheek as she departed. It was well she did not, for it would have made her heart very sad to know all the sorrow and anxiety that distressed her mother as she saw her going out into the crowded streets of a great city, to expose herself to a thousand temptations. She wept long and bitterly in the solitude of her chamber, and perhaps her wounded pride caused many of her tears to flow. But better thoughts came at last, and she took up the Bible which lay on the bed, and read a few passages. Then she prayed to God that he would be with Katy in the midst of the crowd, and guide her safely through the perils and temptations that would assail her. She tried to banish her foolish pride, when she considered her circumstances, she could almost believe it was a wicked pride; but when she endeavored to be reconciled to her lot, the thought of her father's fine house, and the servants that used to wait upon her, came up, and the struggle in her heart was very severe. In spite of all she had said to Katy about the disgrace of selling candy in the streets, she could not but be thankful that the poor girl had none of her foolish pride. She read in the New Testament about the lowly life which Jesus and the apostles led, and then asked herself what right she had to be proud. And thus she struggled through the long hours she remained alone—trying to be humble, trying to be good and true. Those who labor and struggle as hard as she did are always the better for it, even though they do not achieve a perfect triumph over the passions that torment them.
Katy blushed when she met the keeper of the grocery at the corner of the court, for in spite of all her fine talk about false pride, she had not entirely banished it from her heart. Some queer ideas came into her head as she thought what she was doing. What would her grandfather, the rich Liverpool merchant, say, should he meet her then? Of course he would not know her; he would be ashamed of her. But she did not permit such reflections as these to influence her; and as soon as she was conscious of the nature of her thoughts she banished them.
"I'm going to support my mother, and I have no right to be proud. If I meet my grandfather, I should like to sell him twenty sticks of candy."
"Hallo, Katy! What are you going to do?" said a voice behind, which she recognized as that of her friend Tommy Howard.
"I'm going to sell this candy," replied Katy.
"You're a spunky one; mother told me all about it. I should like two sticks," said Tommy, as he offered her the money.
"Take two, Tommy, and as many more as you like."
"Two is all I want;" and he placed the two cents on the tray.
"No, Tommy, I won't take your money," replied Katy, with a blush, for she felt ashamed to take his money.
"That's no way to trade," laughed Tommy. "You won't make much, it you do so. Keep the money and I will keep the candy."
"I can't keep it, Tommy."
"You must; if you don't take the money, I won't take the candy."
"I owe you two cents, Tommy. I will pay you now."
"No, you don't!"
"Please to take them; I shall feel very bad, if you don't."
Tommy Howard looked her in the eye a moment; he saw a tear there. Her pride was wounded, and he took the two cents from the tray, for he did not wish to give her pain.
"Now, we are square, Tommy," said Katy, as her face brightened up again.
"Yes, we are, but I don't like it pretty well. One of these days, when you get out of this scrape, I will let you give me as much candy as you have a mind to."
This was very obliging of Tommy; and when Katy understood his motive, she was sorry she had not permitted him to pay for the candy, for she saw that he did not feel just right about the transaction. It was not exactly mercantile, but then the heart comes before commerce. As she walked along, she could not help thinking that her natural generosity might seriously interfere with the profits of her enterprise. She had a great many friends; and it became a knotty question for her to decide whether, if she met any of her school companions, she should give each of them a stick of candy. She would like to do so very much indeed; but it was certain she could not afford to pursue such a liberal policy. It was a hard question, and, hoping she should not meet any of her schoolmates, she determined to refer it to her mother for settlement.
When she got into Washington Street, she felt that the time for action had come. Now was the time to sell candy; and yet she did not feel like asking folks to buy her wares. The night before, as she lay thinking about her business, it had all seemed very easy to her; but now it was quite a different thing. No one seemed to take any notice of her, or to feel the least interest in the great mission she had undertaken. But Katy was aware that it requires some effort in these days to sell goods, and she must work; she must ask people to buy her candy.