The Project Gutenberg eBook of Heedless Hetty

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Title: Heedless Hetty

Author: Annette Lyster

Release date: August 25, 2023 [eBook #71484]

Language: English

Original publication: London: The Religious Tract Society, 1890


Transcriber's note: Unusual and inconsistent spelling is as printed.
























































"GOOD-EVENING, Mrs. Hardy," said a pleasant voice, as the speaker tapped with her hand upon the half-open door of Mrs. Hardy's cottage.

Mrs. Hardy was a washerwoman, and her visitor knew that sometimes there was but scant room in her kitchen for strangers; indeed, she often wondered how the children managed on a wet day, and how the little ones escaped scalds and burns. However, this being Friday evening, the actual work was over, and the big deal table was piled with heaps of snowy linen, which Mrs. Hardy and her daughter Martha were sorting out and packing in nice large baskets, ready to be carried home the next day.

"Oh, come in, Mrs. Eyre; you needn't be afraid of the wash-tubs or the hot irons to-day. We've finished everything, ma'am."

"And such lots of things," said Mrs. Eyre, as she took the seat offered her by Martha. "I am sure I don't know how you get through it all, Mrs. Hardy."

"Well, ma'am, it takes a power of method. When I first took up this business, often I had all the ironing to do on Saturday, or the most of it; and then 'twas hurry-scurry in the evening to get the things home. I used to get so worried that I fairly thought I'd die. And one Saturday morning, who should come in but your good mother, ma'am, that's in heaven now; and the pleasant way she had. There was I on that chair in the corner, crying, and all the children crying round me. So says she, 'My poor Hannah, are you fretting so badly yet?' I dried my eyes and felt ashamed—for she thought I was crying for my poor man that had died about a year before; and I had to confess that I was crying because I didn't see how to get the ironing done. But indeed I have too much talk—all this don't matter to you."

"Ah, but it does—anything about my dear mother matters to me. Go on with your work, Mrs. Hardy, and tell me the rest of your story. I'm very sure she helped you."

"That she did, ma'am. The place was in a mess, with half-done collars and cuffs on the chairs, and the rector's shirts piled on the table; some of the linen in the baskets, and more on the stool over there. Well, not a word did she say about that, though I knew she saw the untidy way the place was in well enough. Says she, 'The first thing, Hannah, is to get the ironing finished, and then you and I will have a talk. Suppose you send the children out, all but Annie and Matty, who can bring us the hot irons. I am a good ironer, and I'll help you all I can,' says she; and tucked up her sleeves and went to work as if she'd done nothing else all her life. So pleasant with the two girls too, with a word when they brought the irons, that they worked as willing as possible. And of course I wasn't idle; so, before I thought it could be done, the clothes were in the basket. Annie and Matty carried them off; and your dear mother sat down and talked to me."

"'It's all method, Hannah,' she says. 'People sometimes ask me how I get through so much work, and am never in a hurry; now it is just method,' says she. And before she left me she wrote out that paper that you see on the wall there. See, ma'am. 'Monday, collect the wash, put the things in soak, and boil such articles as must be boiled. Tuesday—' You see, ma'am? it's all laid out. 'And make your girls help you when they come home from school; it will be much better for them than running about idle; be pleasant with them, and they will like it well.' Ah, she was a great help to me that day, the dear lady."

"I think she had a willing hearer, Mrs. Hardy."

"Yes, ma'am, because she had a pleasant, kindly, friendly way. It wasn't, 'My good woman, your house is little better than a pigsty,' or, 'Hannah Hardy, why don't you manage a little better about your work?'—not she. Ah, a real lady she was, and a real friend to me."

"But people may often mean very kindly who have not my dear mother's pleasant ways. That kind of manner is a great gift, but some people have not got it, and that they cannot help. They must do the best they can."

"The best they could do, Mrs. Eyre, meaning no offence, would be to stay at home. Folks are only human after all, if they are washerwomen; and they have their feelings."

"Miss Posnett was very kind that time I had a bad whitlow," put in Martha.

"Who's named Miss Posnett?" inquired her mother. "Mind your manners, Matty, and name no names."

"All this time, Mrs. Hardy, I have not told you my errand here to-day. You know the doctors say that my little Flora must not be allowed to walk, or even to stand. She has never been strong since her bad fall. Neither will they allow her to be drawn about in a little carriage, because she gets so dreadfully cold. They say she must be carried. The consequence of this is that I must have a girl to help me, for I never could carry her—she is light enough, but I am not very strong. Now I remember what a comfort your Annie was to me during the short time I had her, and I want to know if you can spare me one of your other girls. It may be only for a time, for Flora may get well and strong again, but I would teach her as I taught Annie, and then when she leaves me she could get a good place, as Annie has done."

"Lady Drysdale says that Annie is a right good servant, and that even the grand nurse is pleased with her. Well, it would be the making of Matty, but I can't spare her, and that's the plain truth. Though I hate refusing you, ma'am."

"But is not Hetty fifteen? Older, I think, than Matty was when Annie came to me."

"No doubt, ma'am. But Matty was Matty, and Hetty is Hetty. There's a sight of difference in girls!"

"Mother," said Matty, "I know you could not spare me, and I shouldn't like to leave you. But if Mrs. Eyre would try Hetty. She is very strong, and very willing. Fond of children too, and used to them—very good-tempered Hetty is. Don't give Mrs. Eyre a bad opinion of poor Hetty, mother, for it's my belief she would do well."

Mrs. Hardy left off working and sat down, in a curiously divided frame of mind. Hetty had been peculiarly heedless and troublesome that whole week, and was just now crying in the bedroom behind the kitchen, after what her mother called "a raking good scolding." It was hard to keep silence, for she had been very angry, and yet she had a notion that Hetty might do better away from home, and from all the temptations to idleness that beset her there. Not that the girl was exactly idle, for she could work well, and liked to work, but let any one interrupt her, if it were only a kitten running into the kitchen, or a noise in the street, and the work was forgotten. Only last night she had been bringing a hot iron from the fire, when a fiddle struck up a doleful air outside, and Hetty clapped down the iron on the ironing blanket and ran out of the house. Mrs. Hardy had been apprised of her carelessness by the horrible smell of the burning blanket, in which there was, of course, a big hole. It was the last of many sins, and no one could deny that the "raking good scolding" was well deserved.

"Matty, are you in your right mind?" asked Mrs. Hardy.

"Yes, mother. If Hetty was in Mrs. Eyre's service, or carrying Miss Flo while Mrs. Eyre drew the little carriage, she would be safe enough. And she would do her best, and indeed, ma'am, Hetty is a good girl. Mother will tell you, she never was known to tell a lie yet."

"It is true enough," Mrs. Hardy admitted.

"There's not a bit of harm in Hetty. I'll even allow that she means well. But I couldn't find it in my conscience to recommend you to try her, ma'am. There's Mrs. Simmons' Emma, she's sixteen, and a steady girl."

"No, no; I will not have her. I heard Emma Simmons using such coarse, violent language to her brother the other day. I would not like my children to hear it."

"You will never hear a bad word from Hetty, ma'am," said Matty. "She is heedless, she does forget things, I know. But she's a good girl, that knows the Commandments, and wants to keep them; and mother knows that too. Will you see her, ma'am? I know she'd do well with you. Hetty, come here."

The door of the inner room opened—Hetty must have been pretty close to it. Out she came—a tall, well-made girl, much taller than neat little Matty. Mrs. Eyre knew her face very well, which was lucky, for just now any one might have objected to her, as likely to frighten the children. Her eyes were quite lost in her swollen eyelids and cheeks, her poor lips were swelled, her whole face was crimson, and her apron was soaking wet, having been freely cried into. Her stuff skirt was torn in several places, her calico bodice displayed two corking pins where buttons were wanting. Her thick, short, brown hair hung over her forehead; altogether, as she sneaked into the room and stood, ashamed to look up, she presented a most forlorn appearance.

"Hetty, did you hear what we were saying?" asked Matty.

"Yes; I couldn't help hearing."

The girl had a very sweet voice, and spoke nicely, Mrs. Eyre observed.

"You're a nice-looking article to be looking for a situation," remarked Mrs. Hardy. "Now, how often would you clap the child on the ground and run off, if you heard the squeak of Blind Davie's fiddle?"

"Mother, sure you know, when the children were little, 'twas always me that kept them best. I love little children, and I would never hurt one—and you know that, mother."

"Well, I don't think you would, to say true," answered the mother. "Try her for a month, Mrs. Eyre, without wages. Washing is a scattery trade, no doubt—takes a power of method. And Hetty has no method."

"Oh, do, Mrs. Eyre—please do! If—if—I didn't see—or hear—Oh, ma'am, do try me! I'll do my best to please you."

"Well, Hetty, I will try you. Come to me on Monday."

"To-morrow, ma'am, if you like. I could have her ready."

"Monday will do. Come early, Hetty. I will try you for a month, and after that, if you stay with me, I will pay you at the rate of five pounds a year, paid quarterly, and we will count this first month in your first quarter. You will have plenty to do, but you look strong and healthy, so you will not find it too much. But you must try to remember what I tell you to do."

"I will try, indeed, ma'am. I am real tired of always being wrong."

"Then good-bye until Monday. And don't cry any more, Hetty; crying never did any good yet. If you will remember that you are one of Christ's servants as well as mine, and that to please Him should be your first thought, I am sure you will get over your heedless ways. Good-bye, Mrs. Hardy. I must go now."

But Mrs. Hardy followed her visitor out of the house and shut the door.

"I wouldn't let her go to you, ma'am, only I do think she may do well with you. She is fond of children, and children take to her at once. My little Bob, that was a sickly baby, was never so good as when Hetty had him. And I know things go on here that take her mind off her work. People coming and going, and the door obliged to be kept open, and all. She may be more correct-like when there's none of that going on. But don't you be soft with her. She's a girl that takes a deal of scolding, and I'm just afraid you are not one to give her enough of it. And if you praise her, ma'am, her head's turned directly. She's not a bit like Annie; so don't expect it."

"Ah, well, I will try her for a month, Mrs. Hardy. I can promise no more than that."

"Nor would I ask more, ma'am. Good-bye, ma'am, and thank you. If you tame our Hetty,—Heedless Hetty, as our boys call her,—I'll say you could do anything."

"I shall try to make her tame herself, Mrs. Hardy."

"She'll never do that, ma'am."

"Ah, Mrs. Hardy, you don't remember that she will not have to do it in her own strength. That would be too much for any of us. But think of the words, 'If any lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth liberally, and upbraideth not.' My mother said to me once, 'The difficulty does not lie so much in your faults as in the fact that you do not see that they are sins; and even when you do see this, you do not go the right way to be cured of them; for nothing but the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by His Holy Spirit can cure the least fault.' But I must really get home now; so good-bye, Mrs. Hardy."

Mrs. Hardy went indoors again. She found that the two girls had finished putting the things into the baskets, and she did not observe that Hetty, in the hurry of her mind, had put three heavy sheets on the top of Miss Posnett's stiff collars and frilled nightcaps. But when Miss Posnett sent those articles back on Monday, it was well for Hetty that she was out of the way.

"Hetty," began Mrs. Hardy, "you are in luck for once, and I hope you're aware of it. Mrs. Eyre ain't rich, but a lady down to her very shoes, and she'll be kind to you. If you lose this chance, I think you'd better emigrate to some savage place where folk won't mind your wild ways; only mind they're no cannibals, for you're plump and young, and if they found you of no use, they might think it better to eat you."

"Mother! how can you?" cried Hetty.

"Take off that dress now, and give it a good patching. Matty, look up all her things; we must mend and wash them. And then I'll go and buy her some neat aprons. Oh, dear, look at her Sunday frock! Did you sleep in it, Hetty? Here, Matty—your fingers are cleverer than mine; mend this, like a good girl. Even if we get her back in a week, let us send her out decent."







IF Hetty had been allowed to follow her own way, she would have gone to Adelaide Terrace at six o'clock in the morning, to show her zeal, but her mother would not hear of it.

"You'd find her in bed, most likely, and some one would have to get up to let you in. No; at nine Mr. Eyre goes off to his business, and you be there soon after nine. Try and keep out of mischief till then—if you can."

As the clock struck nine, Matty and Hetty set out together, carrying between them the small wooden, paper-covered box which contained Hetty's very modest outfit. She could easily have carried it alone, but Matty thought it looked better between them, and perhaps was not sorry to make sure that Heedless Hetty went at once to her new home, and reached it in a presentable state. Hetty had cried, of course, when saying good-bye to her mother and brothers, but for all that she was in fine spirits, and full to the lips of the most excellent resolutions.

"Matty," said she, "you tell Dan that he may leave off calling me Heedless Hetty. I mean to learn to be a good servant, as Annie did; and when I come home, it's Handy Hetty that Dan will be calling me."

"Look where you're going! There now! You've stepped into that puddle—the only one in the road—and dirted your shoe, that Dan blacked so lovely for you!"

"Oh, so I have! Wait! I must rub it off," cried Hetty, and setting down her end of the box into the puddle which had already soiled her shoe, she ran to the side of the road, where she had espied some grass.

"Well, of all the girls!" said Matty to herself, as she tried to see if the box was very wet. "Heedless Hetty will suit well enough yet a bit. Come along; there'll be a scraper and a mat at Mrs. Eyre's, and if I could see you safe there, I'd be glad."

Hetty came back, looking a little ashamed of herself. She did not refer to her message to Dan, and in a few moments they reached No. 1, Adelaide Terrace.

"Set the box down on the step. Give me a kiss, Hetty. Dear heart! Do try to do well here. Mind, if you don't, even I must allow that it is your own fault, and you'll never be worth anything if you don't take hold now and mind what you're about. You've got all your senses like other girls, and it is high time you began to use them."

"I do try, Matty. I never mean to do wrong. But somehow I do forget things so easily."

"Because you don't try to keep your mind fixed on what you're doing, and so you're at the mercy of every little thing that happens. Just heedless—that's about it, Hetty dear. Do you ever pray to be made heedful?"

"Oh, Matty! I'd never think of asking such a thing. I pray to be made good, and holy, and kept from saying bad words, like Emma Simmons, or stealing, like—"

"Now listen, Hetty. You've no temptations to do those things, thanks to your good, careful mother. It's just as if a railway man in the station down yonder should pray that he might not be drowned, when there is not so much as a pond in the place big enough to hold him, and never give a thought to the real dangers he lives among. You pray for what you really want, Hetty. That kind of prayer is only words. Promise me you will, dear—quick! For I must ring now."

"I'll try. Oh, Matty, whatever shall I do without you? I wish—"

But the door opened, and the figure of an ancient dame, who spent her mornings in doing Mrs. Eyre's rough work, appeared before them.

"So here's our new nursemaid," said she, laughing at Hetty's dolorous face. "Which of you is coming here?"

"This is Hetty," said the elder sister.

"Ah, I wish it was you," was the reply.

Hetty would have felt less abashed had she known that the speaker would have made the same remark if Matty had been the new maid.

"Good-bye, Hetty. I'll try to see you some evening; but you know we'll be very busy, wanting your help."

Matty lifted the box into the hall, pushed her sister in very gently, and went quickly away. Hetty felt and looked very forlorn; and, but for the amused smile on Mrs. Goodenough's wrinkled face, she would have begun to cry again. But now a door opened, and Mrs. Eyre, with her baby in her arms, came into the narrow hall.

"Hetty, how nice and early you have come! Leave your box there for the present, and come here to Miss Flo; she is very anxious to see you."

She led Hetty into the parlour, where all her children were assembled. There were four—two little girls, a boy of about three, and the baby, who was a boy also.

The eldest girl, whom they called Lina, was a pretty, active, healthy-looking little maiden, about six years old, very good-tempered, and very fond of her own way—which, after all, is not a very uncommon liking. Then came Flora, who was five, but such a tiny creature that it was hard to believe that she was so old. Little Edgar, the eldest boy, was quite as big and far heavier than this poor wee fairy. She lay on a sofa near the window, and her small face, which was usually very grave and pathetic in its sad patience, was all alive now with anxiety and curiosity. She had lovely dark eyes and pretty brown curls, but her face was too white and pinched to be called pretty, though she had been a lovely baby. She fixed her eyes on Hetty's face, and a little shy, timid smile crept over her own; then she said, in a soft, clear little voice,—

"Is this Hetty? Oh, mamma, she looks kind. I shall not be afraid of Hetty."

She spoke quite plainly and distinctly, much more so than did Lina, who often gabbled so fast that it was hard to understand her.

"This is Hetty, who will carry my little Flo so safely that there will be nothing to be afraid of. My little Flo—she likes Hetty, I think."

"I like Hetty. Her eyes look kind. Please, Hetty, stoop and kiss me. Will you be kind, Hetty, and patient with me? I'm sometimes peevish, I'm afraid."

"Kind? Oh, Miss Flora, that I will!" said Hetty earnestly.

"But don't cry, Hetty. Why should you cry?"

"Well, miss, you see I've just said good-bye to my sister. But I won't cry," Hetty answered, with a choke in her voice. The sight of the child had touched her soft heart.

"Now, Hetty, before you take off your hat, please take Miss Lina to school. It is close by, and she knows the way. Make haste back, for Miss Flo is longing to be out in the sunshine."

"So you see, Flo," cried Lina, "after all your saying that Hetty is to be yours, I am to have her first." And Lina nodded her curly head at the little one.

"She belongs to me," Flo calmly replied. "But I will not be selfish. You can have her now."

Lina laughed, and ran off for her hat. All the way to school she chattered unceasingly, but Hetty had no idea what it was all about. She had left the child at her school, and was on her way back, when she met her brother Ned, who was on his way to the shop where he was errand boy.

"Hilloa, Hetty! Is this you?"

"I've been leaving Miss Lina at school. Oh, Ned, if you only saw Miss Flo! she's such a little darling."

"I'm glad I met you. Look here; I'm going to give you this sixpence. I can do without it, and I find that mother gave you no money. It's not respectable not to have a penny in your pocket. Here; don't buy sweeties with it."

"Thank you, Ned. I'll pay it back when I get wages. You know I'm to get none till I'm here three months."

"I know. That's why I give you that sixpence. I think mother's much mistaken," added this wise youth, aged twelve, "making little of you like that. I say! I shall be late; good-bye."

Hetty put the sixpence in her pocket, and walked on very slowly; for she was wondering what she would buy with that handsome sum of money. She found her mistress on the steps, looking out rather anxiously for her.

"Oh, here you are, Hetty. I began to be afraid that you had lost your way."

"I met our Ned, ma'am, and stopped to talk with him."

"Your brother? Well, there was no harm in that, but when I send you with a message, you must always come back as quickly as possible. You'll remember this, Hetty."

"Yes, ma'am," replied Hetty; and Mrs. Eyre rejoiced to see that she could "take a word" without looking sulky. Perhaps she would have been less pleased had she known that Hetty forgot all about the word in two minutes, or less, being still mentally engaged in spending that sixpence.

"I have dressed the children; help me down the step with the perambulator. But before we go out, bring your box up here to the nursery. That is your bed; put the box beside it. That is right. Now come along, for I want to get out as soon as possible. It is good for the children to be out in the air."

They entered the parlour. Little Flora was ready to go out; she had on a shady hat, and was wrapped up in a soft woollen shawl.

"Now, Hetty, lift her up; do not move too fast, nor jerk her in any way. She is very easily hurt, and still more easily frightened. That is well done; you are stronger than I am."

"She took me up just as papa does," Flora said, highly pleased. "Nice, strong Hetty." And she patted Hetty's round cheek with her little thin hand.

Hetty carried her out, and down the step, as tenderly and carefully as if she had been made of eggs; indeed, more carefully by far than if she had been a basket of eggs, for Mrs. Hardy had been heard to say that Hetty seemed to think that eggs were pebbles. Mrs. Eyre put the two little boys into their carriage, and then they all set out.

There was a common not far-off, which had been a large one when Little Hayes was a village, but which had been very much encroached upon by builders. Still, a pretty strip of wild land remained, and the air was very sweet and pleasant. They found out a cozy, sheltered nook, and there Mrs. Eyre took the two boys out of the little carriage and put them down on the grass. Edgar trotted about, or lay on his back, just as he liked, and baby rolled after him as best he could. Mrs. Eyre sat down and took some knitting out of her pocket.

"Are you tired, Hetty?" asked little Flora.




"Not a bit tired, Miss Flo."

"Then don't sit down yet," whispered the child; "I like moving about so much. You know I have to lie quiet all day."

"Do not go out of sight, Hetty," said Mrs. Eyre.

Hetty walked up and down, Flora prattling away in her quiet, distinct voice; but there was no danger that Hetty would not attend, for Flo had an inquiring mind, and asked lots of questions.

"Are you very sorry to come and live with us, Hetty?"

"No, miss; very glad. It's time I was of use."

"You are of use. You carry me quite beautiful. I do not ache so much while you carry me. But—don't you love your own mamma?"

"That I do, Miss Flo. I love them all."

"Tell me about them. How many brothers and sisters have you?"

Hetty told her, making a long story of it, such as children love. In her pleasure at finding that she could amuse the child, she wandered on and on, until she heard Mrs. Eyre calling her.

"Do not go out of sight," said she again.

"No, ma'am," replied Hetty. But when next Mrs. Eyre looked for her, she was out of sight again. However, she was back very soon, and Mrs. Eyre did not like to be always finding fault. At one o'clock they set off for home, calling for Lina on their way.

Mrs. Eyre and the children had their dinner in the parlour, and Mrs. Goodenough and Hetty had theirs in the kitchen. Then Mrs. Goodenough, having washed up everything and made up the kitchen fire, put on her bonnet and went away.

Hetty sat alone in the neat little kitchen, wondering what she was to do next. From this subject of meditation she passed to that of her solitary sixpence, which, little as it may seem, was the largest sum of money Hetty had ever had at one time. And Mrs. Hardy had been wise in not giving her any, even though Mr. Ned, in his great wisdom, did not think so; for she knew of old that even a halfpenny would burn in Hetty's pocket till she could get out to spend it. Now to do that she must get out by herself, and that was just what her mother and Matty did not wish for her.

Meantime Mrs. Eyre had been well pleased to hear, from little Flo, that Hetty had carried her most comfortably, and had amused her with plenty of innocent chatter. She came down to the kitchen presently, and began collecting such things as she required for some cookery she meant to get done.

Hetty asked to be allowed to carry the tray, which she did very successfully; but she set it down half on and half off the table, and there would soon have been a fine crash if Mrs. Eyre had not perceived this in time.

"You must always see that your tray is quite on the table, Hetty. That would have fallen the moment I touched it. Go up to Miss Flo now. Baby is asleep in the cradle, and Lina and Edgar will go and play in the garden. I must do some cooking—your master dines at the shop, but very early, and of course he needs a good supper. Try to amuse the poor little thing, for this is rather a restless time with her. Keep her lying quiet, flat on her back, if possible. Her walk did her good—she ate quite a good dinner, for her."

Hetty ran upstairs, and found Flora alone. She was crying—not noisily, like a healthy child, but quite silently, great round tears dropping on her white pillow.

"Oh, Miss Flo, what's the matter with you?"

"Oh, Hetty, is this you? I thought you were going to stay and help mamma, and then I was ashamed of being vexed, because mamma has so much to do; and Lina is no help—she's so giddy. Besides, I am afraid I am cross."

"Oh, no, not cross, my poor little dear! Come, shall I sing you some of the songs I learned at school?"

"I—don't—know. Yes, please sing one—only one, Hetty."

Hetty sang, "Pussy sitting by the fire," and Flo laughed.

"Sing more, do, Hetty; your voice is pleasant. Now Lina learns songs at her school, but she has a squeak in her voice that hurts my head. I was afraid you might squeak, but you don't. Sing me another song!"

Hetty sang, and sang, until she saw that the child was in a sweet sleep.







MRS. EYRE was busy in the kitchen for an hour or more. Then she came gently into the parlour, and found Flo sleeping and Hetty crying. She beckoned the girl out into the hall.

"What is wrong, Hetty?"

"Nothing, ma'am. I didn't mean to cry, but I'm that sorry for little Miss Flo. 'Tis so hard on her, the little creature! Oh, ma'am, will she ever be well?"

"I cannot tell you that, Hetty. God knows, and you know He loves her. The great London doctor thought she would recover—Dr. Haddon, our doctor here, was not so hopeful."

"And what is it, ma'am? Was she hurt in any way? I seem to remember mother saying it was a fall, but I did not heed it."

"Yes; two years ago she had a fall. She fell down the kitchen stairs. She did not seem so much hurt at first, but she must have got some terrible twist or strain, for not one day's health has she had since then, and as to growing, if I did not know it was impossible, I would say she has grown smaller. If we even knew exactly what was wrong,—but no one can find out. Come, Hetty, I have a lot of mending to do. Can you work nicely?"

"Not like Matty, ma'am. She's fond of it."

"And you are not?"

"Not I, ma'am. I'd rather scrub floors any day."

"Ah, well, we can't do only what we like, you know. Try to mend this for me. Miss Flo will not sleep long."

She might have slept a little longer, though, if Lina had not bounced into the room, clattering in her thick boots, to get something that she and Edgar wanted. Flora started, and probably hurt herself, for she began to cry piteously.

This occupied Mrs. Eyre, and Lina made off, for she knew very well that she had done wrong. However, she did not escape, for when Flo was quieted, Mrs. Eyre went out into the tiny strip of ground at the back of the house, which she called the garden, and brought in both the children. Edgar was supplied with a box of wooden bricks, with which he made himself happy in a quiet corner, and Lina was placed on a chair with her face to the wall, and kept there for some time.

"I have spoken to you for your heedless, noisy ways very often, Lina. You know that Flo is never to be startled, yet you rush in, making as much noise as a big rough boy."

"I forgot," said Lina; and she cried a little as she sat in punishment.

Foolish Hetty thought that Mrs. Eyre was hard upon the child, but it had been well for her if her mother had taught her to think of what she was doing when she was Lina's age.

Mr. Eyre came home very tired at seven o'clock. He was accountant and book-keeper at Messrs. Miller & Cartwright's great establishment, in the city of which the place where he lived was now a suburb, though it retained its old name of Little Hayes, given when it was a village three or four miles from B—. Tram lines now came to the end of the trim new road, with its red brick terraces, crescents, and villas; but the straggling village street in which the Hardys lived was as yet unchanged. Every year, to Mrs. Eyre's great grief, a new villa or a row of small 'genteel' houses appeared like magic on the pretty bit of common; she feared that before her children were grown up there would be no common left for them to play on.

Mr. Eyre came out of town on the tram-car, and Mrs. Eyre had tea ready in five minutes after he arrived. She had made a little meat pie, and had prepared a green salad that Mr. Eyre said would have made a man eat even if he were not hungry: which, he added, was not his case. Hetty had her tea all by herself in the kitchen, and was young enough to feel quite grand at having her own little teapot. Indeed, she could not feel lonely while she had that sixpence in her pocket.

The remaining days of that week passed uneventfully, until Saturday came. Mrs. Eyre was watchful, and Hetty had no great opportunity of distinguishing herself. She felt very well satisfied with herself, for, as she said, "The first week was nearly over, and she had only broken one plate, and sat down on Mrs. Goodenough's bonnet, which seemed none the worse."

But the week was not quite over.

"Celia," said Mr. Eyre, "this is Saturday, you know, and I shall be home by four o'clock. Now that you have that good-natured girl to see after Flo, don't you think you and the others might come out for a walk? It seems ages since we had a walk together, and these long evenings are delightful."

Mrs. Eyre, poor thing, felt nervous at leaving Flo even for a short time, knowing as she did that Hetty was rather giddy. Still, it was very hard upon her John to have to take his weekly walk alone, when all he cared for was to have his wife and children with him. She thought it would be unreasonable to refuse. So it was arranged that they were to be ready to set forth when he came home.

"Hetty, as I'm going to walk in the evening, I shall not go now. Will you take Miss Flo, and walk up and down before these houses? Now, Hetty, do not on any account leave the terrace."

"Mamma, why may not I go in the evening too?" asked Flo, in her precise little voice. "Hetty could carry me. Oh, mamma, do please let me go."

"No, my dearie; you know the doctor said you must not be out in the evening. Now my little Flo must be good—not selfish, you know."

"May Hetty take me up to the common? I do not like being here in the road."

"It is only for one day, dear. Now you know I want you to be good. Here's your nice pretty shawl. Let me—"

"I want to wear a jacket, like Lina, mamma. I hate being wrapped up in a shawl!"

"This is best for you, love. You know putting on a jacket hurts you."

"Come, Miss Flo," said Hetty. "I'll tell you stories all the time—new ones."

"Don't be f'etful, Flo," remarked Lina, who did not go to school on Saturday.

"You would be fr-r-r-etful if you were me," Flo answered, sounding the r very finely. "Yes, and more, too."

Hetty carried her off, thus bringing these personal remarks to a conclusion.

When Mr. Eyre came home, he found the party ready to set off. Going into the parlour for a word with Flo, he found her apparently asleep; so he stole out, and got the other children quietly out of the house, shutting the door softly. Hetty, sitting darning socks, presently saw a pair of tearful eyes opened.

"Hetty, it is wicked, I know, but I do feel that it is very hard on me."

"Miss Flo, dear, you know it is God's will, and He knows what is good for us. Mother always says so. She tells us not to murmur, because God sends what is good for us."

"Yes; but it's easy to say that," replied poor little Flo tearfully.

"Well, miss, when father died, quite sudden, and mother was left to feed and clothe us all without any help, not one word of a grumble did she ever say; but said it was God's doing, and He'd help her to bear it."

"Your mother must be very good, Hetty."

"That she is, Miss Flo. Come now, shall we play cat's cradle, or draughts? or shall I get Master Edgar's bricks, and we'll fix this tray with one end on the back of the sofa, and the other on the back of this chair; yes, it's quite steady. You were wishing only yesterday that you could have a play with these bricks. Now we'll see if we can build a tower, as Master Edgar does."

The bricks were a novelty, and as such they pleased the child for about half an hour. But Flo could only begin the tower; she could not stretch up her little arms to build it very high. Hetty was not very expert, and altogether the tower was a failure. Then poor Flo began to reflect again that it was very sad for her to be left at home when the others went on the common with papa.

"But you were there only yesterday, Miss Flo."

"Oh, but when papa goes, it is quite different. They will walk on and on, ever so far; they will get into a lane at the other side of the common, where there are flowers, woodbine, and pink and white roses, so pretty! They will stop at Mr. Gibson's, and see his lambs. I saw them last year, for then I could go in the little carriage, you know. They were so pretty; they skipped and jumped about so merry. I like to see things jump and run about. But I never see anything now, since papa brought the big doctor from London to see me. He was here, you know, to see some rich lady, and papa went to him, and told him about me, and he came. It was good of him, I know, but I wish he had not been so good, for he said I must lie still, and never be wheeled in the carriage. Oh, Hetty, take away the tray and the bricks. I think I hate them; it can't be wrong to hate dead bricks—only live things you know. What makes you cry, Hetty?"

"Because I am so sorry for you, Miss Flo, and I'd do anything to make you happy. Oh, Miss Flora, I have the loveliest thought! Mrs. Fenton, that lives not far from here, and is a friend of mother's, she has a beautiful Persian cat that her mistress—I mean the lady in London that was her mistress before she married—sent her for a Christmas box. And Minnie—that's her name—has kittens, and I know that last week they were not all given away, because she offered mother one, but mother couldn't have a second cat. Now I'm very sure that Mrs. Fenton would give me that kitten for you, and as soon as ever your mamma comes home, we'll ask if you may have it."

"Oh, Hetty, how lovely! What a very nice girl you are, Hetty! Mamma will let me have it, I know; for she said lately that she wished I had a kitten. What colour is it, Hetty?"

"Snow-white, with beautiful blue eyes; a real blue, not green, like common cats. And its fur is long and soft, and its tail as thick as a fur boa. They were the prettiest kittens I ever saw, and so merry! Mrs. Fenton had a big cork tied by a cord to the back of a chair, and those kittens were jumping at it and tumbling over each other; it was a sight to see. I'm only afraid they may be all gone, every one admires them so."

"This very moment," said Flo solemnly, "Mrs. Fenton may be going to give away the last of the kittens—the very last. Hetty, I'm afraid I'm going to cry. I should love that kitten so."

"Oh, don't cry, Miss Flo. Look, now; you promise me to lie quite quiet until I come back, and I'll just run round to Mrs. Fenton's, and sec if there's a kitten to be had."

"I will indeed; I'll lie here and never move. I always do when I promise. Do go, Hetty. I am longing for the kitten."

Without stopping to think, Hetty ran off. It really was but a step; she would have been back with Flo in ten minutes, but for one little obstacle. It was raining now, though the evening had promised so well. Hetty ran to Mrs. Fenton's, made her request, and got the kitten, the very last. Mrs. Fenton had made up her mind to keep it for herself, but gladly gave it when she heard for whom it was wanted. Hetty flew back through the fast-increasing rain, and very soon reached the door, when it suddenly dawned on her that having shut the said door when she left the house, she had no means of entering. If she knocked for ever, there was no one to let her in; and what would be worse, Flo might get frightened—might even try to reach the door. Clasping the kitten in her arms, Hetty sat down on the wet step, and cried in utter desolation.

She would be sent home at once, that was quite certain. For had not Mrs. Eyre told her not to leave Miss Flo, except to run down to the kitchen and put the pudding, which she had prepared, into the oven?—that pudding which was to form the great feature in the hungry children's meal when the walkers came home.

Hetty knew that if she were that moment in the kitchen, putting the pudding into the oven, instead of lamenting herself on the door-step, and adding to the dampness of the evening by shedding floods of tears, it would be too late, for she had quite forgotten to do it at the right time. This reflection did not raise her spirits, and the kitten began to wish itself back with its mother, so cold and damp and alarmed did it feel.

Presently steps were heard; then a voice saying cheerfully, "There, Lina; well done—you have run like a lamplighter. Are you very wet, Celia? Here we are safe at home, and nobody a bit the worse. Hilloa! What's this? Who are you, girl? What are you doing here? Why, Celia, it is Hetty!"

"Hetty!" exclaimed Mrs. Eyre, hurrying forward. "Oh, Hetty! how did this happen? Some one knocked, I suppose, and the door shut of itself; that happened to me once. Oh, my poor little Flo! You should have been more careful, Hetty. John, dear, open the door; you have the latchkey."

John put his hand into his pocket, felt all about, tried other pockets, and finally said, "What a stupid! I forgot to bring it. Now I must clamber over the garden wall; which I shouldn't mind only for my good clothes. Well, it can't be helped."

"Let me go, sir; I never thought of that!" cried Hetty. "I'm sure I can get over, sir. And then I'll let you in, and give Miss Flo the kitten. You'll let me do that before I have to go, won't you, ma'am?"

She ran along the side of the house towards the garden wall, and as she went she tied the kitten up in her apron. Putting the struggling little bundle on the top of the wall, she was over in a moment, for she was very active. Seizing the kitten, she ran into the house; she had soiled her neat calico apron, and torn two long strips out of it; but she was quite past fretting over that. She flew up the kitchen stairs and opened the hall door.

Mrs. Eyre hurried in and looked at Flo; the child was asleep, and seemed very comfortable.

"Oh, ma'am, you need not be afraid for Miss Flo, for I was very careful not to make any noise, and she was willing for me to go. I know you told me not to leave her, but I forgot. The poor little thing fretted so because she could not see the lambs, and I told her I thought I could get her a kitten, and then she wanted to get it at once; but I forgot what you said about leaving her, and I shut the door. Oh, dear, I am very sorry."

"Is that you, Hetty? How quick you went!" cried Flo, whom the sound of voices had awakened. "Had Mrs. Fenton a kitten left?"

"Oh, Miss Flo! Yes, my dear, she had. I've got it here."

She went up to the sofa, and Mrs. Eyre saw how the child's face brightened.

"Why, you are wet, Hetty! Is it raining? Oh! oh! what a beauty! Oh! you dear, darling kitten. Hetty, you are so kind; I will not fret a bit more. See how she curls herself up in my arms! And, oh, Hetty, it's actually purring! I didn't know such little cats could purr."

Hetty stooped and kissed the child; then she went out into the hall, where Mr. and Mrs. Eyre stood, watching the little scene. Lina was watching, too, with her hands full of sweet wild flowers; the two little boys were in the basket carriage, and were both asleep.

"Ma'am," said Hetty, "must I go to-night? I'm very, very sorry. It was dreadful careless of me—and to forget the pudding, too! I'll go this moment if you wish it, ma'am."

"Not to-night, Hetty. There is no real harm done, I am thankful to say. To-morrow I will decide. You may go down now, and get the things ready for tea. Put the pudding into the oven; we must use it cold to-morrow. The children must have some bread and jam to-night."

Here Edgar, who was generally a good-tempered child, and not given to greediness, raised a howl because he could have no pudding. He was only half awake, which must be his excuse. The noise roused Flo from rapt contemplation of the kitten.

"Oh, mamma! Have you come home? Come here and see what Hetty has brought me."

"Edgar, stop that noise at once! I'm ashamed of you; run upstairs with Lina. Yes, Flo, I see. It is a very pretty kitten—a Persian, I think."

"And Hetty was so kind, mamma; so sorry to see me cry, because I could not go with you all. She ran ever so quick to get the kitten from Mrs. Fenton, and I promised not to move, and I fell asleep; so she was back in a moment. Mamma, Hetty's mother is a very good woman. When her father died, she said it was God's will, and she did not fret. Hetty told me because I was fretting. Wasn't she very good, mamma? her mother, I mean."

Here Hetty came in with the tea-tray, and Flo was soon very busy, feeding her kitten with some milk, and laughing with delight to see its little tongue go in and out as it lapped.







POOR Hetty! she thought herself the most unfortunate girl in the world. How vexed her mother would be if she were sent home! And Matty would be so sorry, and Dan would laugh. But worst of all, little Flo would miss her; and she had become very fond of the frail, suffering child.

However, she got up very early, and put all her belongings into her box, to be ready if she had to go. Then she crept softly downstairs, and got through a great deal of work. She swept and dusted the parlour, setting out the breakfast table; she lighted the kitchen fire, and set on the kettle. In fact, when Mrs. Eyre came down, rather later than usual, for she had been tired the night before, she found the greater part of her usual Sunday morning's work done.

"Oh, thank you, Hetty. I slept so long this morning. I thought we should be ever so late."

"Ma'am," said Hetty, "do you wish me to go away now?"

"Do you wish to go, Hetty?"

"No, ma'am," and Hetty began to cry; "but I am always forgetting things. Mother says I'll never be worth a pin."

"What's all this about?" said another voice; and Hetty saw her master in the doorway.

"Hetty is very sorry, John; and what do you think?"

"Well, I was very angry last night, but thinking it over, it seems to me that we might give her another chance. She did it to make the child happy, and I don't think she will forget again."

"Sir, I don't think I could, not about leaving Miss Flo; but as to the pudding, I really couldn't say, because I am so dreadful heedless."

"We'll say nothing about the pudding this time," said he, laughing. "But don't be content to be heedless—no one need do that. I am going out for a turn, Celia; but I shall be in good time for breakfast, never fear."

"Well, Hetty, that is settled, and I am glad to keep you. For you are so kind to my poor little Flo that I should be very sorry to send you home; but indeed you must try to be steadier, or one could never feel any real trust in you."

"Indeed, it's a great misfortune," Hetty said dismally; "and it's very good of you and master to try me again."

"Don't call it a misfortune, Hetty—it is more than that. If you loved your Master and Saviour as you love Miss Flo—for indeed I know you do love her—you would be as anxious to please Him as you are to please my poor little girl. And then we should have no more forgetting or carelessness, because such things are wrong, and grieve Him."

Mrs. Eyre went upstairs then, hoping that Hetty looked a little thoughtful, and would ponder over what she had said. But Hetty could do nothing but rejoice over her escape. So happy did she feel, that she unconsciously began to sing.

Mr. Eyre, Lina, and Edgar went to morning service, and Hetty was to go also; then she was to go home, and to return in time for her mistress to go to evening service, Mr. Eyre remaining at home with the children. He would be very glad to have Hetty's help, for generally the baby refused to go to sleep on these occasions, and his crying made poor Flo cross.

"Well, Hetty, I won't say but I'm glad to see you here again. I declare, child, we've missed you a good bit," Mrs. Hardy remarked, when the family reached home. "And how do you get on now?"

"Oh, I got on right well until yesterday. But I was dreadful yesterday, mother." And Hetty proceeded to give a full account of her misfortunes. "I thought they'd send me home at once; but they are so kind, and Miss Flo is such a darling, it would just break my heart to leave her now."

"Well, you needn't cry over it now, Hetty. I daresay you blubbered plenty at the time." At which there was a general laugh at Hetty's expense. "But if you want to stay, you'll have to mind yourself. They won't overlook many pranks like that. I wonder how they kept their hands off you, I declare."

"Oh, they're not that sort at all," answered Hetty. "I'd better be going now, maybe; but I couldn't be easy in my mind until I had told you this."

"You won't be expected until five o'clock. I settled that with your mistress. So sit down, and we'll have dinner. After dinner you can all go and have a walk if you like."

"And mother'll take her nap," said Dan.

"Well, I want it, Dan. I'm not so young as you, and I work very hard."

After dinner the young people all went up to the common, but Dan and Ned soon met some lads they knew, and deserted their sisters and the little ones. The children played about, and Matty and Hetty had a nice quiet talk. Hetty had much to tell, for the week spent with the Eyres had been such a new life that it seemed as if she had been away from home a month at least. Matty gave her lots of good advice, but she had such a gentle, kind way of advising, that no one was ever annoyed by it.

"You know, Hetty," she said, "you are a Christian—you believe in the Lord Jesus, and mean to serve Him. And you must mind what He says about eye service—and it is eye service when you forget what has been said to you the moment your mistress's eye is off you."

"But—I only wanted to please poor little Miss Flo."

"Hetty, dear, think more of pleasing Him than of pleasing Miss Flo. If you'd thought for a moment, 'What would He tell me to do now?' you'd have remembered that you were not to leave the child."

Hetty listened, and thought how good Matty was, and how much she wished she was like her. But she had such a sad habit of only half attending to what was said to her, that she did not really take in the sense of her sister's words.

Hetty went home in good time, and took care of the baby so skilfully that he never cried once.

For a while all went well. Hetty had got such a fright that she really put her mind to her work, and when she did so, no girl could do better than she. But presently the impression made by her Saturday's adventure began to fade from her mind, which began to wander about "wool-gathering," as of old. Her day-dreams were very innocent, being principally concerned with that still unspent sixpence. The weather was fine, and they were out on the common for several hours of each day. Flo enjoyed this, and the fresh air made her sleepy, so that the day did not seem so long. Moreover, the kitten was a great pleasure to her. It was a frisky, jolly little kitten when awake, but it had good capacities for sleep, so that Flo and her kitten took their naps together in great comfort.

For some days Flora was in great anxiety about a name for the kitten, which she called Kit provisionally. A name pretty enough for so pretty a kitten was very hard to find—at least, so Flora thought.

Every one suggested names. Hetty thought Pinkie very pretty, and the kitten had such a dear little pink nose; but Flo scouted the idea with contempt. Mrs. Goodenough mentioned Fluffy, but that was regarded as an insult to the kitten's personal appearance. Lina said that all cats ought to be called Pussy. Flo was obliged to pretend not to hear this, she thought it so silly. Mrs. Eyre thought Pet would do nicely, but it did not satisfy Flo.

At last, waking up from a nice nap just in time for tea, Flora announced that the kitten must be named that very night, or she would begin to think that Kit was her real name. As the little creature, like all Persian cats, was quite deaf, there did not seem to be much danger of this.

"Now every one of you must think of a new name; none of those you have said before. Think hard, now. I'll give you time."

She counted twenty, and then said, "Now, mamma, you first."

"Queen Elizabeth would be a very grand name."

"I'm very sorry, mamma, but it is too long. No one would ever say Elizabeth, and I don't like Queen by itself. Now, Hetty, what's your new name?"

"Miss Flo, I've told you every name I ever knew a cat to be called."

"But I don't want an old name. I wish for quite a new one."

"Well, would you like Darling, miss? My sister Annie had a kitten once called Darling."

"It's a pretty name, but I wonder you will tell me names that have been used before."

"I never knew a cat called My Lady, Flo," said her mother.

"Call her Nebunezzar," said Lina.

"Nebuchadnezzar, Lina! Don't be childish," Flo answered, with dignity. "It must be My Lady, I suppose. Here comes papa! He shall choose."

On the case being stated to Mr. Eyre, he gravely replied, "Flo, your cat is a Persian cat, or will be, if she lives; so she ought to have a Persian name, and you can choose between Zelica and Nourmahal."

"Oh, papa! such lovely names! Say them again, please."

Mr. Eyre having done so, she said, "I choose Zelica, papa. For though I could say Nourmahal, I don't think Lina would, and I don't see how it could be shortened. Zelica! it is really a lovely name—you are sure it is Persian, papa?"

"Quite sure, my dear. I found them for you in 'Lalla Rookh.' A Persian story, you know."

"Come here, Kit. Your name, my own dear pet, is Zelica. Don't tell me she can't hear me—see how she listens with her pretty blue eyes! Zelica, my dear! Lina, can you say it? It is an easy word."

So the vexed question was happily settled, and Zelica had a bit of blue ribbon tied round her neck, to mark the day. This gave Hetty plenty to do, for Zelica evidently thought that the right thing was to get the blue ribbon off as soon as possible, and to run away as fast as she could with Hetty at her heels, and her little mistress's delighted laugh sounding sweet and clear from the sofa. Then Flo tied the ribbon on again, and the whole performance was repeated, until Mrs. Eyre could not but admire Hetty's endless patience. But I suspect that Hetty enjoyed the fun quite as much as Flo did, and as to the waste of time that would have distressed busy Mrs. Eyre, Hetty cared nothing for that. Indeed, I think myself that she was very well employed.




One evening Mr. Eyre came home rather early, saying that he had a headache, and felt very tired.

"Mr. Cartwright asked me to post this letter, Celia, but I felt so done up that I took the tram the whole way. Could Hetty run to the post office in Little Hayes for me?"

"Certainly she can."

"Here then, Hetty. It is of consequence, and you have only just time to get it posted; so make no delay anywhere."

"But you may pay your mother a visit on your way back," added Mrs. Eyre; "for you pass the door, you know."

Hetty took the letter and set off. She was quite close to the post office, when unfortunately she espied a Punch and Judy show a little way off, and it at once struck her that with two of Flo's dolls and that squeaky voice she could amuse the child wonderfully. To acquire the squeak, she stopped to listen, and thought no more of letter or post till the show was over. Then she went on to the office—to find the post box shut.

"Oh dear, dear what am I to do? and I'm sure I didn't stay five minutes!"

"Five minutes!" echoed a woman who knew her. "Say twenty, Heedless Hetty. Knock at the shutter there; maybe they'll take it."

Hetty groaned and timidly knocked at the cruel little green shutter which covered the box, as well as a tiny window above it. After two or three knocks it flew open, and a boy looked out—Fred Smith, a great friend of Dan Hardy.

"Oh, Fred! do take in this letter! My master said it was of consequence, and must go to-night, and I stopped to look at a Punch and Judy—do take it."

"But the bag's gone!" cried Fred. "It's too late from this office to-night. Never mind, Hetty, give it here, and I'll slip it into the bag to-morrow morning, and then no one need know about Punch."

"But it would be deceit," said Hetty, drawing back, "and master might get blamed. I must tell him. Good-bye, Fred; you mean it kindly, but I couldn't do it—nor you wouldn't do it yourself; either."

"I'm afraid I would," Fred answered, with a half laugh.

"Oh, no! Sure it is just the same thing as a lie."

With these words Hetty turned and ran off. She passed her mother's door without slackening her pace, and was soon at Adelaide Terrace. She would have been a good deal surprised had she heard what Fred Smith said as he watched her flying round the corner,—

"Well, that's a good girl, even if she is heedless. Dan's always laughing at her, but I shall tell him on Sunday that she's a deal better than either of us, and I'll do the like of that no more, for she is right."

Mrs. Eyre opened the door for Hetty. "Come in quietly. I'm afraid your master is not well. I never saw him so tired. He is half asleep."

"Oh, ma'am, what will you say to me? I was late with the letter!—too late for the post!"

"Oh, Hetty, Hetty!"

"What is that?" cried Mr. Eyre from the parlour. "Do I hear you saying that the letter was too late?"

"Yes, sir," said Hetty, in a trembling voice, but going forward to meet him with the letter in her hand; "the bag was gone."

"You had plenty of time. What made you late?"

"It was a Punch and Judy, sir. I wanted to be able to do it for Miss Flo, and so—"

"Very careless. I have not time to speak to you now, for that letter must go, or Mr. Cartwright will be very angry. Where are my boots? Celia, I must go into town with it."

"Oh, John! and you so tired!"

"Let me go, sir. I'll run every step of the way and I won't look at a single thing. I know where to go. Sir, if you'll only trust me just this once, I'll be very careful."

"No, no. You're really too scatterbrained," he said. He began pulling on his boots, but stopped with a sigh.

"I can't," he said; "I have such a headache. Hetty, I must trust to you after all. Here is money; take the tram if you can, but they only run every quarter at this hour."

"I'll do my very best," cried Hetty. And she was out of the house before any one could speak again.

A tram-car would start in ten minutes, the men told her, when she reached the place where the line stopped. Hetty would not wait, but ran on, going at such a pace that the car never overtook her. But she had the satisfaction of being in time: Much consoled, she hurried home, to find that her master had gone to bed, and that Mrs. Eyre was seriously frightened about him.







"THAT'S well! Now I shall be all right after a good night's sleep," Mr. Eyre said, when assured that the unlucky letter was safely posted.

But unfortunately he did not get a good night's sleep—or any sleep at all—for he began to shiver and shake so much that Mrs. Eyre called Hetty, and sent her for Dr. Haddon. And so far from being "all right" in the morning, he was so ill that Hetty was sent with a note to Miller & Cartwright, to say that he could by no means go to his business that day.

Mr. Eyre was ill for three weeks, and it was a sharp attack. He was never in actual danger, but his wife thought he was, and her misery was great. It was now that she found the comfort of having a tender-hearted, sympathizing girl like Hetty to help her, instead of being dependent on old Mrs. Goodenough, who, though an honest, hardworking woman, was so far from feeling for others, that she never once offered to stay five minutes beyond her usual time, or to do anything but her usual work, during the whole three weeks of anxiety.

But Hetty was very helpful, never once relapsing into carelessness. She kept the children quiet, made beef-tea and cooling drinks, took Lina to school, carried Flo up and down the terrace, nursed the baby, and constantly assured her mistress that "Master wasn't nearly as bad as Mrs. Clarke's Ben, so that he would certainly get well. Ben got well, though he was prayed for in church," she added triumphantly.

Flora, too, behaved very well. She lay there uncomplainingly, neither asking to be amused, nor making a fuss about anything. She and Zelica kept each other company. Zelica was "a real comfort," the old-fashioned little body informed the doctor.

And baby was excellent. But I am sorry to say that Lina and Edgar were exceedingly troublesome until Mrs. Eyre gave them both a good whipping, after which they began to consider their ways.

At last—it was not really so very long, but it seemed long to all concerned—at last came the happy day when papa could come down into the parlour—very weak and pale, and very glad to sink into his arm-chair, after the great exertion of coming downstairs, supported by his wife on one side and the banisters on the other.

"There, Hetty!" cried the little woman joyfully. "You see, you were right, and he is going to get well, after all."

"And I don't know what we should have done without you, Hetty," added Mr. Eyre. "You have been such a comfort to your mistress in every way."

Of course Hetty began to cry. Whether praised or blamed, Hetty generally cried. "Oh, sir," she said, "I do wish mother could hear that."

"So she shall," said Mrs. Eyre. "I shall certainly tell her. You have been the greatest comfort and help to me."

"And so has Zelica been to me," remarked Flo, which made them all laugh; and Hetty ran off to the kitchen to get tea ready, so uplifted in heart that she had to sing the whole of "God save the Queen" to relieve herself.

Mrs. Hardy herself brought home the clothes on Saturday, and Mrs. Eyre called her into the parlour, and there, with Hetty standing by as red as a peony, she told her how well the girl had behaved.

Mrs. Hardy was pleased, though it was against her principles to show it. She laughed, and said, "Oh, Hetty was always good at a pinch. I wonder now what outrageous thing she'll do to make up for lost time."

"Come, now, you are too hard upon her," said Mr. Eyre.

"I don't mean to be, sir. I warned the mistress here not to be praising her. Her head don't stand it, ma'am, and so you'll find. But I'm very glad she was serviceable to you, though it's no more than her duty, and so we'll say no more about it."

But she told Matty that she really believed that Hetty was going to behave like other people, she was so improved.

Yet I must confess that I do not think that Hetty was really improved. She was a good girl, very truthful and honest, very kind-hearted and affectionate, anxious to do right when she gave herself the trouble to think about it. The misfortune was, that she often did not think, nor had she yet learned that it was wrong to be so heedless. It gave her no trouble, but came quite natural to her, to be very sorry for others when in sorrow or anxiety, and to help them with all her heart. She was not heedless then, because her feelings were touched, and her mind was full of plans to be of use. When she had done a careless thing she was very sorry, quite ready to own to it, and to cry over it; but all this, only if her heedlessness had caused mischief and annoyance. She did twenty careless things for which she never was sorry, because no great harm came of them. In fact, she acted on impulse, not on principle; and being fortunately a good girl, her impulses were mostly good; but she had yet to learn self-control.

She had yet to learn that a Christian must bring conscience to bear upon every action of life, small as well as great. And as to seriously repenting of her fault, and praying to be cured of it, she was so far from this, that she hardly knew it for a fault at all, but called it a misfortune, and had quite forgotten Matty's little sermon to her on the day she left home.

She loved her mistress and Miss Flora very sincerely, and was capable of doing much to please either them or her master; but though it is well to love our fellow creatures, and all love is the gift of God, yet only the love of God, filling our hearts with an ardent desire to please Him, can so fill these hearts of ours as to drive out carelessness, thoughtlessness, or any other sin. Still, Hetty was one of God's dear children, thoughtless as she still was; and if she would not learn the mild lessons He was giving her now, we may be sure that some lesson of a more severe nature would be sent to her. For He loves His children, and will have them learn to think more of pleasing Him than of anything else.

Mrs. Eyre, however, thought, naturally enough, that Hetty had left off her heedless ways, and was therefore a little disappointed when, on coming home from an expedition to Messrs. Miller & Cartwright's, whither her husband had sent her, she perceived a very unpleasant smell in the hall.

"Oh, Hetty, what a horrid smell! What is it?"

"Indeed, ma'am, it is the small tin kettle. Mrs. Goodenough had not filled it, and I thought she had, and put it on, wanting some hot water. But it was empty, and it got all red, and there is a great hole in it. I am very sorry, ma'am."

"But do you mean the tea-kettle? Mrs. Goodenough never fills that. I like to fill it with fresh water when I am going to make the tea."

"Yes, ma'am. But I never thought of that."

"And I have told you not to use that kettle, you know, except for making tea."

"Yes, ma'am. But I forgot. I'm very sorry."

Mrs. Eyre's interview with her husband's employers had been a trying one, and she was feeling low and tired. It is not easy to be quite patient when one is feeling thus, so it was with less than her usual gentleness that she said,—

"If you minded what I say to you, you would not have spoiled my nice little kettle. I hope you have water boiling to make tea, for I am very tired and thirsty."

"Yes, ma'am—at least, it will boil soon. I did not think of it at first."

"Well, I'll come down as soon as I have given your master a message I have for him."

She went into the parlour, where Mr. Eyre, Flo and Zelica, were keeping each other company.

It was half an hour or so before Mrs. Eyre came down to the kitchen. Hetty had the tea-tray ready and the kettle boiling; but, alas! when Mrs. Eyre glanced at the said kettle, she perceived that it was her pretty little bronze one, which certainly never was meant to be put on the fire; and the round cover of the stove was off, the poor little kettle being well thrust down among the coals.

"Oh, Hetty, you really are too provoking!" she cried. "To use the bronze kettle! It never was meant to go on the fire! It was one of my wedding presents, and I would not have had it spoiled for anything! Surely there are plenty of common kettles."

"I'm very sorry, ma'am," began Hetty; but poor, tired, worried Mrs. Eyre replied sharply,—

"Where is the use of being sorry, if you go from one careless thing to another? There, I've made the tea. I shall come down for the tray in five minutes. Pour the water out of that kettle. Hetty, do use your eyes; don't you see that this one is full? Pour it away down the sink. Now clean the kettle thoroughly; don't leave off until you have it perfectly clean."

She walked to the door, but paused there to say, "You have seen Mrs. Goodenough cleaning it; are you sure you know what to use?"

"Yes, ma'am," said Hetty tearfully.

When Mrs. Eyre came for the tea-tray, she saw Hetty rubbing away with great vigour, crying all the time. Being really provoked, she did not speak, but took up her tray and walked off. Tea over, she told Lina to call Hetty to come for the tray, for she was really very tired. Hetty came, bringing with her the unfortunate kettle, bronze no longer. For "Heedless Hetty" had used Bath brick, instead of the proper powder, and her strong young arms enabling her to rub powerfully, she had rubbed off every morsel of bronze, and the kettle was now bright brass.

"There, ma'am, see how bright I have made it!" Hetty said.

Mr. Eyre looked up from his book, saw the kettle, saw, too, his wife's face of horror. He burst out laughing, and, after a moment, Mrs. Eyre laughed too.

"Bright, certainly, Hetty; but I'm afraid it won't match its stand any more. What have you done to it?"

"Oh dear!" cried Hetty. "If I haven't Bath-bricked it! Oh, ma'am, I am—"

"Very sorry," put in Mr. Eyre. "Ah, Hetty, I wish you'd use your brains—you have brains, you know. Never mind, Celia, I will get the kettle bronzed again—when I can."

And he sighed; whereon Flo called out,—

"Papa, come here, please. Give me a kiss. Dear papa," with her little arms round his neck, "do not be sorry; I don't like to see you so."

Hetty, much subdued, went away with the tray and the luckless kettle. The foolish girl thought that her master's sigh was caused by the kettle's change of complexion, but poor Mr. Eyre had more serious cause for sighing than that.

He had been ill for three weeks, and it would be some time before he was fit to go to his work again. The doctor's bill was a large one, for some of the medicines had been expensive, and he had now to take beef-tea, nourishing food, and a little wine; and all this costs money. He had sent his wife to Mr. Cartwright, the managing partner, to find out if he would advance him a portion of his salary; but Mr. Cartwright refused, on the ground that it was not the rule of the house, and would be a bad precedent.

"I had some difficulty," he said, "in getting any one to fill Eyre's place, and of course the salary goes to the man who is doing the work. The sooner Eyre gets back to his desk the better for all parties," remarked fat, prosperous Mr. Cartwright, playing with his watch-chain, and smiling in a superior manner at the poor, anxious little woman.

"But, sir, we are—"

"Short of money, eh? Ah, yes; I told Eyre how it would be when he married—absurd, you know, to marry so young. If he don't like our rules, I daresay the gentleman who fills his place would be very glad to remain permanently."

"My husband will return to his work as soon as he possibly can," said Mrs. Eyre. "Good-evening, sir."

It was plain that to urge her request might prove worse than useless. She softened the story as much as possible when telling her husband; but it was not a cheering story at the best.

The Eyres certainly had married young, and Flo's ill health had been an expense to them. Still, Mrs. Eyre was a good manager, and they had kept out of debt, and had even saved a very few pounds. The little hoard paid the doctor, and this left a very tiny sum to carry them on until Mr. Eyre could claim a month's salary.

No wonder he sighed and she looked grave; her head was full of plans for lessening her expenditure; and poor Hetty, polishing the cups and saucers until they shone again, and shedding plenteous tears over the sorely changed kettle, little thought what far greater cause for weeping she was about to have.







MRS. EYRE, thinking and thinking how to lessen her already moderate outlay, made up her mind, with much regret, that she must part with Hetty. Without Mrs. Goodenough she felt she could not manage, but although Flo would miss her sadly, Hetty must go; for truly there was so little spent, save on necessaries, that to part with Hetty, keep Lina at home from school, and do without a new bonnet, was all the poor little woman could think of.

So when the morning walk and the early dinner were over, Lina and Edgar out at play, and Flo dozing on the sofa, Mrs. Eyre said,—

"You cannot think, Hetty, how sorry I am. But Mr. Eyre's illness, and his absence from the shop, makes such a difference to us that I find I must do without you, for the present; and of course I could not ask you to stay at home waiting until I could have you again."

"Oh, ma'am! Me to go home? Oh, I thought you'd forgiven me, ma'am, and—"

"It is not that at all. I do not expect a girl of your age to be a first-rate servant all at once, and you have been very useful and a great help to me. It is just what I say: I must lessen my weekly expenses, and this is one of the very few ways in which I can do so. And I am very sorry to lose you, Hetty."

Hetty got up and crept away to cry in secret, for she did not want to awake Flo. But, unfortunately, Flo had not been quite asleep, and had understood what was said only too well. She was in a sad way; in fact, I do not know which wept most, Flo or Hetty. But I do know that the saddest person there, on whose shoulders all the trouble would fall, was Mrs. Eyre, who did not cry at all, but said to her husband,—

"Never mind, John. It is only for a time."

Mrs. Goodenough, arriving next morning, found Hetty washing up the breakfast things, while her tears dropped into the water, patter patter, as if she was trying whether salt water would impart an added polish to china.

"In mischief again, Hetty?" said the old woman, laughing. "Such a girl to cry I never did see."

"Mrs. Goodenough, you'd cry if you were me. I'm—go-o-o-o-ing away."

"Well, and what of that? There's plenty of places where an active girl will get as good, ay! and better, wages than you get here, for less work. My Lady Drysdale, where your sister is, wants a kitchen maid. You'd easy get the place. Eight pounds a year, I believe. Me cry if I was the one to go-o-o-o!" and she mimicked poor Hetty in a very heartless way; "not me, indeed. I guessed that they'd be for saving and scraping; for everyone says Cartwrights are very hard—not a penny given if their folks are ill, and no advances, not if they was starving. Every one for himself in this world. You ask Mrs. Eyre for a bit of a character, and go and get this good place, where you'll learn to be a first-rate cook, and be getting your thirty or forty pounds a year by-and-by."

"But Miss Flo. I do love Miss Flo."

"Oh, get out o' that with your love! It's yourself you have to think of. Five pounds a year, and killing yourself carrying that poor child—and eight for half the work. And now 'twill be, 'Mrs. Goodenough, will you help me to move the sofa?' or, 'Will you take baby for half an hour?' as it used to be. I was thinking of leaving before they got you in, and 'twouldn't take much to make me leave now."

"Mrs. Goodenough, is it now, when they are in trouble? Do you mean to say you've been coming here all these years, and haven't got to love Mrs. Eyre and the children?"

"What call have I to love them? I never was one for going about loving folk. And do you think they spend much time in loving me? Don't you be a fool, Hetty. Servants has no business with such feelings; you've your work to do, and you must do it well, because it ain't respectable to do otherways, and they pays you, and there's an end. What's the love wanted for?"

Hetty stared—this line of reasoning was new to her.

"Christians ought to love one another," said she, presently.

"Bother!" was the reply. "You can't love every one, and you know you can't. It's just humbug!"

"Miss Flo loves me. And the mistress said she was sorry to lose me."

"So she well may. You've slaved for her and that child, and now you see what you get by it. Out you go the moment it's convenient. Why, by that counting, I love you; for I'm sorry you're to go—you've saved me a lot of trouble, and I will say you're an obliging girl. Well, the mistress must manage somehow, for I declare I'm too old to be put upon, and the children are no business of mine. I must get to work now; I'm sure I don't know why I am wasting my time trying to put sense into you, Hetty."

Mrs. Goodenough was not generally inclined to talk much to Hetty, whose willingness to oblige often annoyed her, by making her unwillingness more remarkable. And it was quite true that she did not know what made her preach this nice little sermon on self-love; but I think I can guess. If we deliberately harbour selfish feelings, and pride ourselves on them, he who inspires them will use us as his mouthpiece occasionally—which is not a comfortable thought.

For awhile these remarks made Hetty very unhappy. Was it true that everybody cared only for number one, and that to love those about you was folly? But reflection brought happier feelings.

"The Bible," said Hetty to herself; "tells us to love one another, and it can't mean only one's own folk, because that comes by nature. And it says to serve faithfully, not for wages only; at least, I think it does. Matty could tell me—she knows where all the nice verses are; and she tries to love every one, I know. I think Mrs. Goodenough has no feelings."

She took up her Bible—a Sunday-school prize, gained long ago, and in which she read a chapter every day. But now she turned over the leaves in search of advice, for she had a plan in her head, and did not see how to carry it out. Of course she did not find any direct advice in the Bible, but she found many things that washed away the worldly, selfish notions with which Mrs. Goodenough had tried to fill her mind.

She found a great deal about love, and very little about taking care of oneself. She found one verse which said that "even Christ came not to be ministered unto, but to minister"; and another, which seemed to mean that if we do good only to those who do good to us, it is not worth much. "So," thought she, "even if Mrs. Goodenough was right, and my mistress does not care for me, it makes no difference in what I ought to do. But she is kind, and she does feel kind towards me; of course she won't love me as I might come to love her, for what am I compared to her? Well, one thing is clear; if no one ever loves me, it's my duty to love people. And I must see mother, for she has a right to settle it."

She put on her hat and ran down to the parlour. "Can you spare me for an hour, ma'am? I want to speak to mother."

"Yes, of course you do. I can spare you, Hetty. Indeed, we must learn to do without you—poor Flo and I."

On this Flo began to cry again, and so, be sure, would Hetty—when a cry was heard outside, "Cherries! ripe cherries! cherry-ripe! cherry-ripe! Penny a bunch! penny a bunch!"

"Mamma," cried Flora, "do you hear? Ripe cherries, only one penny a bunch. Oh, do get me some—they are so cool and nice."

It was very seldom that Flo asked for anything eatable, for she was not a greedy child, and if she had a cake or other little dainty given her, she always insisted on sharing it with the whole family. But for fruit the poor child had a perfect craving, and the misfortune was that all fruit, except strawberries and grapes, disagreed with her dreadfully.




Hetty ran off to stop the woman with the cherries, but Mrs. Eyre called to her.

"No, Hetty—thank you. I cannot give Flo any cherries. Don't stay out very long, please, for I have to take the other children into town to get new boots; they must have them, I find."

Hetty heard poor little Flo giving way to a most unusual fit of whining.

"Why can you not give me cherries, mamma? Only one pennyworth!"

And Hetty heard no more, for she closed the hall door and ran on down the terrace.

"Poor Mrs. Eyre!" thought she, "not to be able to spare one penny, when the dear little soul wants them so badly. Oh I declare I might get some for her myself; that sixpence of Ned's is in my pocket."

She ran after the woman and bought two bunches, each containing six or seven cherries. These she popped into her pocket, as she had not time to run back with them. Then she was soon at her mother's door.

The lines in the garden were full of fluttering, dangling linen, and Mrs. Hardy and Matty were refreshing themselves with a well-earned cup of tea.

"Why, here's Hetty; and as solemn as you please," cried Mrs. Hardy.

"Oh, mother, I'm so glad to find you resting, for I want a talk with you very much. I've been thinking, and thinking, and I know what I'd like to do, but you'll know whether I ought, and besides, you may not like me to do it."

"Sit down, child. Matty, give her a cup of tea to help her to speak plain. You're not in any scrape, Hetty? That's well; and as for what you've said so far, I don't know what you're at."

Hetty drank her tea, and then proceeded to tell her story, dwelling at some length on Mrs. Goodenough's remarks.

"And now, mother, if you wish it, I can try for that place at Lady Drysdale's, but I would much rather be with my mistress. And there she'll be, with Miss Flo fretting, and the baby teething, and Miss Lina at home all day and very troublesome, just like our Jane, and no help from Mrs. Goodenough, who has made up her mind to leave if she is asked for any. Now, if the mistress would keep me, and not Mrs. Goodenough, I would be of a deal more use to her. The mistress can't carry Miss Flo a bit."

"Ay, child—but the cooking?"

"I could do all that Mrs. Goodenough does. The mistress does it herself. Mrs. Goodenough cleans up, and if there's anything to be put in the oven for dinner, she does that."

"And doesn't forget it, eh, Hetty?"

Hetty looked rather foolish for a moment. Then she said: "Mother, do you know, I really think that the more I have to do, the less I forget. It is not while I am busy that I forget, but when I sit thinking."

"Sit idle, you mean. But I daresay you are right; it's what Matty has always said. All the same, Mrs. Goodenough's work, with carrying Miss Flo added to it, is a good deal, Hetty, for a girl of your age to undertake."

"Well, I'd like it. I like work, and I'm as strong as a pony. And—I just thought, mother, that it might be right. I do love my mistress and Miss Flo. But of course it's for you to choose."

"As to going as kitchen maid at Lady Drysdale's, I wouldn't have it at all, Hetty. It's very different from being in the nursery, like Annie. There's a swarm of men-servants, and you're young and giddy. And I don't deny that I'm glad and pleased to hear you say you love your mistress and the child you've had charge of, and that you're willing to work hard for them. As far as my leave goes, you may see what Mrs. Eyre thinks of it, just for a time. But the thing is, what will Mrs. Goodenough say?"

"She told me herself that if she was asked to move the sofa or hold the baby, she'd leave."

"For all that, she'd be very angry if you put her out. Nor you wouldn't like it done to yourself, Hetty."

"No, that's very true. What can I do? I think I might tell Mrs. Eyre something of what Mrs. Goodenough said to me, and get her to ask Mrs. Goodenough now if she will be willing to give a little help—for you know, mother, she really must, if she's to stay. The mistress is real clever, but she's not very strong."

"You might do that. But you must not be disappointed if she says she will stay. For it's one thing to talk big to you, and quite another to throw away a place where she's very comfortable. If she promises, mind now, you mustn't say another word."

"I will not indeed, mother."

"Do you know what I think?" said Matty, looking up from her knitting. "I think, if mother went up herself and said that about asking Mrs. Goodenough, it would come better from her than from Hetty."

"That's true," said Mrs. Hardy; "and I'll step up to-morrow about ten. I'm very tired now, and a few hours won't make any difference."

"Thank you, mother. I must run home now, for Mrs. Eyre wants to go out. I shall be on the watch for you to-morrow."

Hetty was soon at home again. She found her mistress and the children ready to set out, and Mrs. Eyre only lingered to beg Hetty not to forget to put the mutton into the oven at the right time.







HETTY found Flo crying. Poor little thing, she had been the most sunny-tempered creature before her accident, and even since then her good temper and patience were wonderful. But she suffered a good deal of pain, and there was often a little feverishness about her; and hers was a trial which would have been felt by much older people—to lie on the sofa all day long, unable to take any part in all the fun and frolic of the others. And now the added grief of losing Hetty had made the child a little cross.

"Oh, Miss Flo, what's the matter with you? I can stay with you all the time; I need only run down to the kitchen once or twice."

"Oh, Hetty, Hetty! I'm very low to-day. I cannot help it, though I do try sometimes. Now they're all gone to get new boots, and I can't help wondering, shall I ever want new boots again any more?"

"Indeed you will, miss! If you're only careful to do just what the doctor said, and never hurt yourself, I'm very sure you'll be quite well some day. Have patience, my dearie, and don't make poor mamma fret. Nothing frets her like seeing you like this. You were crying when I went out, and you were crying when I came back, and it's bad for you, dear, and not right, too. Come now; shall I read you a bit of some nice story?"

"Presently. I'd rather talk a little first. When I've grumbled a bit, I feel better; and you won't mind, will you, Hetty? Yes; I was crying when you went out because mamma would not give me any cherries."

"And see now what I have in my pocket!" exclaimed Hetty; "and if I had not forgotten all about them. I ran after the woman and got two lovely bunches for you. Look, Miss Flo."

She produced the cherries, not very much improved by their sojourn in her pocket; in fact, they were quite warm and a good deal crushed. But Flo was not inclined to be critical.

"Oh, how kind! But mamma said—I do not think I ought to eat them, Hetty. But it was very kind of you."

Now Hetty, you must remember, was under the impression that it was only the expense that had prevented Mrs. Eyre from buying the cherries. She had not heard her tell the child that she could not have them because they always made her ill. And as to the idea that cherries, no matter how unripe, or how knocked about in a warm pocket, could disagree with any one, it was far indeed from Hetty's mind. She had been one of those lucky children who can eat anything, green apples, sloes, bilberries, or even bad cherries, and never feel a bit the worse.

"I don't think your mamma would mind," said she; "but I'll tell you what we'll do. We'll just put them into Miss Lina's little basket, and lay it here on the table till the mistress comes home."

"Take me in your arms, Hetty, and carry me up and down, just for a minute."

Hetty did so, and then the child consented to be read to. Generally, she was very particular about Hetty's pronunciation, and corrected her frequently, like the old-fashioned scrap she was. This evening, however, she listened in silence; she was looking hard at the cherries.

"There's the clock, Miss Flo. I must run and see after the cooking; but I shall not be long."

She ran downstairs, and made what haste she could to return. But while she was absent poor little Flo had contrived to reach the little basket, and had eaten up every one of the cherries. She had been gazing at them, and longing for them, and telling herself that mamma would not let her have them, and that Hetty would give them to Edgar and Lina; and I think it was the vision of the delicious cherries disappearing down their throats, that finally conquered the poor child. She meant to tell Hetty, but when she heard her coming, she was ashamed; and putting the stalks and stones into the basket, she dropped it between the back of her sofa and the wall. And poor "Heedless Hetty," coming in just then, never missed the basket, nor thought about the cherries again, until, when going to bed that night, she took from her pocket four big brown pennies, and remembered why she had "broken into her sixpence," as she said to herself.

But if Flo had been fretful before, it was nothing to her crossness now. Nothing pleased her; the book was stupid, the room was too hot, Hetty was unkind; she cried every minute, and finally burst into a howl, declaring that "she was too miserable to be good." Her cries awoke the baby, who promptly added his voice to the uproar, and Hetty was fairly at her wits' end, when a knock at the door announced the return of the expedition to B— and silenced Flo.

"Oh, ma'am, I am glad you are come, for I'm half afraid that Miss Flo is ill. I never saw her like this before."

"Does she complain of any pain?"

"No, ma'am; but she's very restless. She was crying out loud just now, but when you knocked she stopped."

"I heard crying, but I thought it was the baby."

"'Twas both, ma'am; but when she left off, so did he."

"I'm afraid you've been frightened, Hetty. I hope there's nothing much the matter. Flo has been rather cross all day. Run up, children, and Hetty will take your things off."

She herself walked into the parlour, to see after Flo. The child was very white, wearied out with crying. As soon as she saw her mother, she said, "Don't kiss me, mamma, I've been bad."

"But, my wee woman, I kiss you because I love you."

"You would not kiss me if you knew how bad I've been."

"We will not talk of that yet. See, I have brought you something that you like;" and she opened a paper bag and displayed half a dozen Naples biscuits.

Flo turned her face to the wall and wept.

Mrs. Eyre was puzzled, but the child seemed so ill and feverish that she judged it better to ask no questions. She began getting the room ready for tea, and then took baby out of his cradle, wide awake now, and as jolly as usual. Mr. Eyre came home, the other children came downstairs, and they all sat down to tea. Hetty had set the tray on the table, and was leaving the room, when Flo called to her.

"Hetty! Take me to bed. I want nothing to eat. I'm tired; please, may I go to bed?"

"Oh, my child, just eat a little bit. Hetty, has she eaten anything since we went out?"

"No, ma'am."

"Take me to bed!" cried Flo desperately. "I will go to bed. Mamma, give Lina and Edgar the biscuits; do, mamma, please."

Hetty put her to bed; she was very silent, until she was tucked snugly into her little white nest, when she said, "Good-night, Hetty. I am a very unhappy person. After what has happened, no one will love me."

Hetty laughed, and kissed her. "That's a funny notion, Miss Flo. Why, here's Zelica. After being asleep the whole evening, she is wide awake now; I had better take her back to the parlour."

"No, no; give her to me. Oh, Zelica, I'm so glad that you won't understand. Go away, now, Hetty, I want to think, and see if I can do it."

"Do what, dear?—go to sleep, I hope. I will run up presently and see how you get on."

Lina and little Edgar slept in the nursery, Flo in her mother's room. When the children were in bed, Hetty stole in softly to look at Flo. The child had fallen asleep, with tears on her cheeks and her pretty eyelashes all wet. She moved restlessly, and made a little moan occasionally. Hetty ran down to tell her mistress.

"Miss Flo is not sleeping easily at all, ma'am."

"I'll go up to her. Oh, John, what am I to do if Flo is ill, and Mrs. Goodenough will not do a thing for me?"

"Did she tell you she would not, ma'am?" said Hetty quickly.

"I told her to-day that we could not manage to keep you, and that we must manage as we did before you came; and she said it was only fair to tell me that she could not help about the children; that she would do her own work, and no more."

"I declare," said Mr. Eyre indignantly, "I should have given her warning on the spot."

"She said much the same to me this morning, ma'am. And then I thought—maybe if you let her go, and kept me. I went and asked mother, and she's coming to-morrow to find out if Mrs. Goodenough is in earnest. I know I'm not as good a servant, but I would do my best—I would do anything, ma'am, to be with you and Miss Flo. I know what has to be done, too—a stranger would give you more trouble, and I should be here to carry Miss Flo, and all. Mother was quite satisfied. Oh, do let me stay, ma'am!"

"It would be too much work for you, Hetty."

"Not it, ma'am. Not half as tiring as a day over mother's tubs! I'm very strong—if you can overlook my heedless ways; and, oh! but I would do my best."

"But, Mrs. Goodenough," began Mrs. Eyre, "she is old, and would not easily get a place to suit her, and she has been with me a long time, and—"

"Look here, Celia. I'll settle this in two sentences. Whether Goodenough meant what she said or not, it is all the same. She has never been an obliging servant; and it is for you, and not for her, that I am going to care. Would you not rather have Hetty?"

"Oh, dear, yes, I should. I think Hetty and I could get on very well, just for a time. It is only that Hetty will easily get a place, and—"

"Well, that's her own look-out. I'll see Mrs. Goodenough to-morrow morning and tell her that she may go. In my opinion you'll be twice as well off with Hetty. And I trust that this pinch is only for a time; we'll get another Goodenough by-and-by."

"Well, Hetty, your master, you see, has made up his mind; and if I find that your mother is content, you do not know how glad I shall be. I really think it was making my poor little Flo ill, she was so sorry."

Hetty coloured and smiled, and looked so happy that one might have thought she had just got great promotion.

Mr. Eyre said when she was gone, "That's a good girl, Celia. I never liked Goodenough, selfish old cat! I hope she may end in the poorhouse!"

"Now you don't, John. Poor old woman!"

Down came Hetty again, full speed. "Oh, ma'am, Miss Flo does look so bad!"

They all ran upstairs. Flo was twisting and moaning as if in pain, her cheeks flushed and her lips white. She woke up in a moment and looked frightened.

"Flo, dear, are you feeling ill? You were crying out in your sleep."

Flo turned her face away. "I don't want anything," she said.

They thought she was asleep again; and as it was now late, Mrs. Eyre sent Hetty to bed, and said that she would sit up for a little while, just to see how the child slept.

Hetty went to the nursery and began to undress. Then came the discovery about the sixpence—a sixpence no longer.

"The cherries!" said she to herself, "what has become of them? Sure, they couldn't make the child ill, even if she ate them—and we put them in the basket. But I'll just run down and look. I never thought a few cherries could make a child ill; but if they have, the mistress ought to know."

She went down to the parlour. But she could not find the basket—that she did not find the cherries need scarcely be said.

While she was searching about, Mrs. Eyre came down. "I thought I heard you moving about—what made you come down again?"

"Well, ma'am, I'm looking for some cherries that I bought for Miss Flo, and she would not eat them until you were here to give her leave. I put them into Miss Lina's basket, but I can't find them."

"Cherries! why, Hetty, you know I refused to get any for her, just as you were going out! They always make her ill, and those the woman had were neither ripe nor freshly gathered."

"I did not know they made her ill, ma'am."

"I think you were in the room when I said so."

"Oh no, ma'am. You only said you could not give her any. I meant no harm, but she told me she did not think she ought to eat them, so we put them in the basket, but I do wonder where they are."

As she spoke, she stooped to look on the floor for the missing treasure, and at once cried out, "There they are!" Pushing the sofa out from the wall, she seized the basket. Alas! it was empty. Hetty grew quite red.

"They may have fallen out," said Mrs. Eyre. "Look on the carpet."

Hetty went down on her knees, and searched about; but she was so long, that at last Mrs. Eyre said, "What are you about, Hetty? Are the cherries there, or not?"

Hetty got up. She held out on the palm of her hand thirteen cherry stones and a little heap of stalks.

"Hetty, oh, Hetty, perhaps you ate them! When she would not, you know. You do forget things, you see."

"What is keeping you, Celia?" said Mr. Eyre, walking in.

"Did you, Hetty?" repeated Mrs. Eyre.

"No, ma'am."

"Oh, John, that is what ails poor little Flo. Hetty went and gave her a lot of cherries, though she heard me refuse to buy them for her. And now she tells me she put them in this basket, because Flo refused to eat them—but the cherries are gone."

"Ma'am, it was wrong of me to buy them for her, I suppose; but indeed I did not hear you say that they'd make her ill, nor did I ever think it possible. I did not know she took them, but now I'm sure it was while I was in the kitchen, for the poor little dear, she wasn't like herself all the rest of the time. But to think of me never missing them!"

"Well, Hetty, you have always told me the truth—I am sure you are right. Oh, my poor little Flo! John, what had I better do?"

"Come up to her; we'll just wake her up for a moment, and give her some of the medicine Dr. Haddon left for her. Say nothing, for she will tell you in the morning, and that will be much better. As to you, Hetty, mind this—you are never to give the child anything to eat, except what your mistress provides. It was a very wrong and very careless thing to do, and if the poor child is ill for a week, it is your doing. Go off now to bed. Come, Celia."

Poor Hetty! That was a very miserable night.







THE next morning Flo seemed poorly, but not really ill. Mrs. Eyre kept her in bed, and the child lay there quietly, and looked very sad.

"Mamma," she said, "when you're not busy, come to me."

"I can stay with you now if you like."

Flo looked up at her piteously.

"I've done a very wrong thing," said she.

"Yes, dear. Tell me all about it."

"Hetty brought me a present of two bunches of cherries. She did not know that I ought not to eat them; she put them away in Lina's basket. While she was reading I kept wishing for them, and when she went to the kitchen I took the basket off the table. They looked so nice I ate them. They were not very nice; they were sour, and not cool—but I ate them. They gave me a very bad pain; and I was glad of that. Oh, I've been just like Eve. Poor Eve, I am more sorry for her now! But Hetty did not do wrong, mamma; it was all me."

"I did think my little girl could be trusted," said Mrs. Eyre.

"So did I, mamma," was the unexpected reply, which very nearly surprised Mrs. Eyre into a laugh. "But I did it. Will you never trust me again, mamma?"

"Soon, I hope; but you will have to earn it, Flo. Do not cry, my dear, I know you are sorry, and I am glad you told me yourself. You are not strong, like Lina, so I shall not punish you, and I hope you will try to be sorry quietly, for if you cry and fret you will make yourself ill. And try, dear, to see where you began to do wrong. Eating the cherries was not the beginning, was it now?"

"No; I was cross all day, and I murmured, mamma, nearly all day, and never tried to stop; and then I kept wishing, wishing for the cherries."

"And if you had tried to leave off being cross and fretful it would not have been so hard, because, you know, you often have done that. God would have helped you."

"Will He forgive me, mamma?"

"Yes, love; shall we ask Him to do so now?"

"Oh yes! please do."

Mrs. Eyre knelt by the little crib, and prayed in simple, reverent words, Flo listening with tears in her eyes.

"Amen, and won't you give me a kiss, mamma?"

I need hardly say that the kiss was given. Happy little Flo! To be so taught, and so forgiven.

Mrs. Eyre then went down to the kitchen, and being rather a cowardly little woman, I must confess that she dreaded the impending interview with Mrs. Goodenough, who had been informed by Mr. Eyre that after this week her services would be no longer required, as he would not allow a servant to be kept who refused to give Mrs. Eyre such help as she needed with the children.

Mrs. Goodenough's feelings had been so much hurt that she had then and there demanded her week's wages, and another week, instead of a week's warning, and Mr. Eyre, knowing how his wife would rejoice to find her gone, paid her, and let her depart.

"I suppose," said she, standing in the hall, "the mistress means to keep Hetty Hardy, which I wish her joy of it. But as to slaving on to the end of the week, when you've dismissed me as if I hadn't been a month in the house, that I will not do; my things are all in their places, and the mistress knows that I'm honest—no need for counting the half-dozen pots and pans, I suppose, so I'll just go at once."

"You certainly shall," replied Mr. Eyre, opening the hall door, "and without another word if you please."

So Mrs. Goodenough departed, and Hetty reigned in her stead. She was busy in the kitchen, when her mother arrived.

"Oh, mother I'm sorry now that you had the trouble of coming, for Mrs. Goodenough went away of herself. She told the mistress that she would give no help with the children, and the master put her out; and I think I'm to stay."

"You think! and what's wrong with you now, Hetty? I thought you'd be delighted to have it settled—is it settled?"

"I hope so. Come down to the kitchen, mother, and I'll tell you all about it."

"I declare!" said Mrs. Hardy, when she had heard the story, "I don't know whether to laugh or cry. The notion! why, child, don't you see that it was a very impertinent thing for you to do? To go buying a penn'orth of cherries for the child because you fancied her mother couldn't. I wonder when you're going to have a morsel of sense—I do indeed! Well, I must find out if Mrs. Eyre is going to overlook it, for I declare I don't expect it. Where is she?"

"She'll be here in a minute, mother."

Hetty went on with her work, dropping tears into the kitchen utensils, and sighing in a heartbreaking manner; her mother watched her with some amusement. At last Mrs. Eyre came down.

"Where is Mrs. Goodenough?" said she, looking round.

"The master bid me tell you, ma'am, she's gone. She wouldn't stay even to wash up the things. He hadn't time to wait for you to come down."

Mrs. Eyre's manner became very much more cheerful.

"Oh, Mrs. Hardy, I didn't see you. Good morning."

"The same to you, ma'am. I just waited to ask—because it's pleasanter to have things settled—do you think you can put up any longer with this oaf of a girl? Such a piece of impertinence I never heard of. I'm downright ashamed of her, that's what I am."

"Hetty did not mean it for impertinence. She is very thoughtless, but she is very truthful. I am sure she will never do such a thing again. I will see how we get on, if you are quite satisfied to have it so."

"Quite pleased and satisfied, ma'am—and—There you go, Hetty! Boo—hoo—like a baby! First, for fear you are to go, and now for joy that you're to stay. I haven't a bit of patience with you, and that's the solemn truth. Good morning, Mrs. Eyre—when she's done blubbering, she'll put away the rest of those things, I hope."

Mrs. Eyre went upstairs with her.

"You are too hard upon Hetty," said she.

"Ma'am, that's just because you are too soft with her. If you gave her a raking good scolding when she makes a fool of herself; she'd be all the better of it."

Mrs. Hardy was so far right, that it was quite as well for Hetty that she began her new undertaking in a slightly subdued spirit. Between that, and the fact that she hardly ever had a spare minute, she got on very well. Of course she made mistakes, and sometimes forgot to do this or that; but on the whole she did well, and was a great comfort to her busy little mistress. And Flo, who was taken out every fine day, began to improve slowly, but perceptibly.

Mrs. Eyre, who did not expect too much from a girl of fifteen, was satisfied with Hetty, and even Mrs. Hardy began to think that all her "raking fine scoldings" were taking effect, and "making a woman of the girl" at last.

The only person who felt disappointed was Mrs. Goodenough, who had confidently expected to be recalled on account of Hetty's blunders, and who had not found it easy to get a comfortable place. However, no one can be very sorry for her, as she deserved to be disappointed. Her mistress had always been most kind and considerate, and I pronounce Mrs. Goodenough a selfish old woman.

In about six months the Eyres had paid off the few debts incurred during Mr. Eyre's illness, and, moreover, he got a very welcome and unexpected rise in his salary. One of the partners in the great firm died, and his son was a man of larger views and more generous feelings than any of the other persons concerned. He was quite shocked to find how hard and grasping the firm had always been to their clerks and salesmen, and with much trouble he succeeded in bringing about a better state of things.

The very first thing that Mr. Eyre insisted on was, that some one should be hired in Mrs. Goodenough's place, for he thought that both his wife and Hetty had rather too much to do. And who do you think came begging to be engaged but the excellent Goodenough herself? And in a very subdued and anxious state of mind, I assure you.

Mr. Eyre laughed when he heard that she was to come back, and said that his wife was a silly little woman. Mrs. Goodenough was very civil to Hetty, but she had by no means forgiven her for having offered to remain in her place, and the girl had no friend in the old woman from that time.

Another benefit conferred on those in the employment of Miller & Cartwright by the new Mr. Miller, who had come home to take his share in the management, was an annual holiday. Mr. Eyre was informed that he might take a fortnight in July, and that Mr. Miller would fill his place for the time. And judge of the delight of the children when they were told that they were to spend most of the time at R—, a small village on the coast of —shire, chosen because it would be an easy journey for Flo. Hetty was to go with them, and Mrs. Goodenough was to give the house a thorough cleaning during their absence.

When the much-expected day arrived, Flo insisted on taking Zelica with her, saying that Mrs. Goodenough did not love Zelica, and would not make her happy. As no one could contradict this statement, Zelica was shut into her basket, and became one of the travellers.

Only a little while ago, to keep Zelica in the basket would have been one person's work; but her kitten days were over, and though she could enjoy a game of play still, she no longer wanted to be playing all day long. She lay contentedly in her basket, peeping out through the wickerwork with a supercilious air, as is the manner of cats. Flo lay on the cushions with her head on Hetty's lap, and Zelica's basket held in her arms. Lina and Edgar danced about in great glee—Flo had to tell them more than once that they were "childish."

At last they reached R—, and Hetty carried Flo to the pleasant lodgings that Mr. Eyre had engaged. The child was too tired to care even to see the sea; as Lina was wild to do. But next day she was rested, and her delight was very great. When the tide was low, there was a beautiful beach, where she could lie on a soft shawl, and actually pick up pebbles and shells for herself. Then, when the tide was high, there was a zigzag path up the low cliff, and near the top there was a hut, with a broad seat all made of sods, green and fresh; and here Hetty and Flo spent many happy hours, while the others rambled about. Zelica condescended to go with them to the hut; down on the beach she would not go, as her delicate paws got wet with salt water. Poor Hetty! That wooden hut haunted her dreams for many a night, for it was here that she got a lesson which went far towards curing her of her thoughtlessness.

The days passed very happily. Mrs. Eyre and the three children bathed and rambled about. Even Baby Johnnie could walk now; they got sunburned and freckled, and loaves of bread disappeared before them as if by magic. Mr. Eyre, too, began to look brown and strong, and even Flo's little cheeks got a pale pink touch. As to the other members of the family, Hetty and Zelica, they could hardly look better than they always did.

Their pleasant stay was drawing to an end, when one day Mr. Eyre announced that he was off for a long solitary walk, as he wished to go farther and by rougher paths than any one else was equal to. Before he went, he carried Flo up to the hut on the cliff, Hetty following, laden with her workbasket, Flo's pillow and shawls and a second basket, which contained the cat. Also Hetty brought a charming story, which Flo had heard many times, but now wished to hear again.

"There you are, little woman," said Mr. Eyre, laying the child down on the scat, where Hetty proceeded to make her comfortable. "I declare, Hetty, I think she is a little bit heavier, and she surely looks better."

"That she does, sir. We'll have her dancing country dances before long."

"That's what you always say, Hetty. But I'm not sure that I want to dance country dances. I would rather go out walking on the common with the rest."

"That will be a pleasant day, little Flo. Now, good-bye. I shall be back in time to help you down the path, Hetty, so you may wait for me if the day does not change; and I don't think it will do that."

"I wonder is it always fine here?" said Flo, as she watched her father going up the steep path.

"Oh, no, Miss Flo! They have their share of rain and storm, no doubt. Don't you remember the old fisherman, who told you how his boat was lost, and his grandson was—"

"Don't, Hetty! Oh, I dreamed of it! Do let me forget it. I hope it will be fine all the time we're here. The sea is so nice. Does not that long bright streak look as if we could walk on it? I want to think of it like this always."

"So we will, Miss Flo. I don't suppose there are any storms in the summer."

With such conversation, Hetty working all the time, they passed the morning. Then Flo had some biscuits and milk, and Zelica, having had her share of milk, got back into her snug basket, and went fast asleep. Hetty began to read "Whiter than Snow," which I think she must have known of by heart. And Flo listened until the murmur of the sea mingled with the well-known words, and Hetty's voice sounded far-off and indistinct. After that, Flo was asleep.

Hetty covered her more completely, and then stitched away at the brown holland pinafore she was making. Presently a shrimp-girl, whose acquaintance she had made on the beach, came up the path with a sackful of these little creatures on her back. Hetty threw down her work and went out to talk to her. The girl was glad to rest, and to have a chat, and Flo slept peacefully, so that it did not matter.

"Well, I must be going," said the girl at last. "I have eight miles to walk to sell my shrimps to-day. Such a take as we had! And Joe Mallard gave up fishing early, and went and sold all his in the village; so no one would look at mine. Here, miss, I'll give you some if you have anything to put them in."

Hetty produced the paper bag in which Flo's biscuits had been packed, and the shrimp-girl filled it generously.

"That's for yourself, mind. You must boil them till they're red. Good-bye now; I must lose no more time."

"Good-bye, and thank you kindly," said Hetty, going back to her work.

But she did not work long. The pleasant shade of the hut—the wide outlook over the deep blue sea, dotted all over with fishing boats, tempted her to gaze. Laying down her work on her knees, she gazed, and dreamed, and idled. How much time she passed in this occupation she had no idea—if one can call it an occupation.

At last Flo stirred in her sleep, and Hetty roused herself. She changed the position of the pillow a little, and the child was soon in a deep sleep again.

But now Hetty perceived that Zelica was gone. The basket was open, and empty. Hetty tried to remember when she saw her last. She had been there when the shrimp-girl came—and Hetty thought she had seen her when she returned to the hut.

"She'll have gone back to the lodgings—but I will take a look round; the child won't wake this hour."

She went out and looked up and down the path. Coming back, she perceived that Zelica, who was not a perfectly honest cat,—poor Flo always thought it was because she had seen her mistress take the cherries!—had been at the bag of shrimps. She had poked a hole in the thin, wet paper, and Hetty concluded that she had stolen a shrimp, and run off to try if she liked it.

"She can't be far-off," muttered Hetty, taking a look at Flo, who was lying quite quiet. "I'll just run up the path a bit. She'll have gone that way, the little thief! She won't go home with her stolen shrimp."







IT was about two o'clock when Hetty left the hut on the slope of the cliff path, and it was a little past three when Mr. Eyre reached it on his way home. He had had a most delightful walk, and his pockets were full of spoils, brought home for little Flo: flowers, sea-weeds, a deserted nest, feathers—every pretty thing that he had seen that was likely to please his little sick girl. There was no sound of talking as he drew near, so he entered quietly, thinking that the child was asleep.

But Flo was not there. The hut was deserted. The shawls used for covering her when she slept were on the ground—and there too was Zelica's basket, all bent and frayed. Also a wet paper and a lot of half-dead shrimps, some of them mashed up in a very unsightly manner, and Hetty's work; all these things lay here and there, but Flo, Hetty, and Zelica had vanished.

"The child must have been ill. Stay! there's the mark of a big dog's paw on the shawl! They have been frightened, and Hetty has taken her home to her mother."

Hastily gathering up the scattered articles, all save the shrimps, he began to descend the zigzag path rapidly. He turned the first corner, and—what was that at the bottom of the next descent? He flung away everything that he was carrying, and flew down the path. Yes—his fears were only too well justified! it was Flo lying on her face, and between her and the edge of the cliff sat a large black retriever, who looked up in the newcomer's face and whined. Then he put his nose to the child's head, and cried again.

John Eyre lifted his little one; her face was cut and scratched, and so were her poor little hands. But, oh! that was nothing to what he feared for her! How had she come there? She was quite insensible, and looking back he saw a scrap of her frock and one little soft shoe on the rough track; she had fallen and rolled down the steep incline—something had stopped her, perilously near the edge, over which she would otherwise have fallen eight or nine feet, coming down on the rocky surface of another division of the zigzag. It seemed as if the dog had stopped her; at all events, he was sitting between her and the edge.

But you may be sure that Mr. Eyre did not delay to decide the question. Carrying the child steadily, he hurried on, the dog running by his side, looking up with almost human anxiety in his face. He followed to the door of the lodgings, saw Flo carried in, and then ran off.

"Celia! Celia! come here. Oh, my dear, I can't take time to warn you—something has happened to Flo—she has fallen."

Mrs. Eyre was by his side. "John, is she dead?"

"No, no,—not dead. Let me lay her on her bed. See! She is only scratched—she moved then. Oh, Celia! The child is alive!"

Mrs. Eyre brought water, and opened the child's frock, which was all twisted round and round her. Flo opened her eyes,—but, alas! she did not seem to know them. She screamed, as if in terror, crying out,—

"Oh, Hetty, Hetty! The dog—the big black dog! Oh, Hetty! Come back, come back! Oh, Zelica, poor Zelica!"

"Where is Hetty, John?"

"I don't know. But, if this is her fault—!"

His voice was lost in Flo's terrified screams.

"John, dear, she is very ill. I must have help. Go to the Convalescent Home over there, and ask the nurse to come to me—she was talking to Flo the other day. And get a doctor: I think we must lose no time."

Mr. Eyre ran to the Home, and was very fortunate, for the nurse could easily be spared, as there were not many patients, and they were all nearly well. So she came at once, and so did the doctor.

It seemed a long time before the doctor came downstairs to the room where poor John Eyre waited for him, and where the three children sat cowering in a corner, terrified by Flo's shrieks, and their father's face of misery.

"Your wife, sir (I don't know your name yet), tells me that the doctor who knows the child's case could be here in a few hours if you went for him. There are no bones broken; but she is in a fearful state of terror and excitement, and I should be very glad to have this Dr. Haddon's help. You see, I don't know anything about the previous injury. Mrs. Dooner, the nurse, can stay here, and I should advise your taking these poor little things home, if possible. There will be plenty to do, without having them here."

"I will take them home, and bring Haddon back. When is the next train?"

"There is one in half an hour. If no one else sends for me, I will stay here until you return. You may be able to get back by one which stops here at nine, but to do that you must not lose a moment."

"You're very kind," John Eyre said, and began putting on the children's hats, which lay on the window seat.

Just as they were ready, a flying step passed the window, and in rushed Hetty, looking like a mad girl.

"Miss Flo," she gasped. "Oh, sir, Miss Flo!"

"Where have you been?" said John Eyre sternly.

"Miss Flo! Miss Flo!" cried Hetty.

"You may hear her screams. She is here. I found her half-way down the path. Where were you? Speak, girl!"

"Zelica ran away; I went after her. She—I saw her on the green place at the top of the cliff. She ran off, and I after her. She got into a lane that goes away from the sea, and when I saw that I couldn't catch her, I turned back; but I had lost my way. Oh, I have run till I'm nearly dead, and when I got to the hut—oh, sir!—"

"You left the child, and went away, far enough to lose yourself. I don't know what happened to her, but I think she is dying. Go—go home! Let me never see your face again."

"Oh, Mr. Eyre! I deserve it; but the mistress will have no one to help her."

"I will see to that. Here is your money. Go at once! I cannot bear the sight of you."

He took the three children, and left the house. He was but just in time to catch the train.

Hetty sank upon the window seat and listened, her heart wrung almost past endurance, to the sounds upstairs. Poor Flo! Had any one thought of it, the sight of Hetty, for whom she called so pitifully, would have quieted her better than anything. But Mrs. Eyre did not know that Hetty was in the house, and no one else attended to the meaning of the child's cry.

"Zelica! oh, Zelica! The big black dog has eaten Zelica! He'll kill me too! Hetty! Hetty! come back!"

"If this can't be stopped, the child will be in convulsions," said the nurse.

The doctor took a small bottle out of his pocket, saying, "I must, I suppose. I would rather have waited for Dr. Haddon."

He mixed a few drops with water, and gave the glass to Mrs. Eyre.

"Flo, you must drink this," Mrs. Eyre said softly. And Flo, having learned long ago to obey that gentle voice, checked her wild outcry and swallowed the medicine at once.

"Oh, mamma! is that you?"

"Yes, darling. Lie still; I want you to go to sleep."

"But—the big black dog."

"There is no dog here. Close your eyes, Flo; try to sleep."

Flo obeyed, and slept uneasily for about half an hour. During this sleep, Mrs. Eyre whispered to the nurse, "Mrs. Dooner, I must just run down and see what has become of the other children."

Mrs. Dooner did not know that they had gone away, and the doctor did not hear what was said. Mrs. Eyre left the room.

Poor Hetty, half stupefied with grief and terror, heard her step, and knew it. The child had ceased to cry. What had happened? She could not face her kind mistress. She could not bear to hear her say "Go," as her master had done. She could not bear to hear that the child was dead. She started up, crept out of the room, and ran out of the house.

She went to the railway station, and was told that there would not be another train until seven o'clock—a slow train, the ticket clerk told her, but she could not understand him, she was so dazed. There was a seat close by, and she crawled over to it, and sat there until the train ran in. Then she took her ticket, and got into a third-class carriage.

The door was opened just as the train was starting, and a woman got in. At the same moment something white made its appearance. Zelica sprang into Hetty's lap.

"Is the cat yours?" inquired the porter.

"Oh, Zelica, Zelica!" cried Hetty. "You don't know what we've done."

The man looked at the woman who had just got in, and said, "I hope the girl's in her right mind."

The woman half rose, but sat down again, saying, "I'm only going to the next station, and she's but a slip of a girl." And as Hetty sat quite quiet, she was soon satisfied that there was no danger.

It was a long, weary journey. The train stopped at every station, and sometimes where there was no station at all. Hetty felt as if she was dreaming, and could not wake. She did not even cry, and whether the noise she heard were the whistle of the engine or Flo's screams, she did not know. But at last they reached B—, and she left the train. She had a long way to walk, but she did not think of that; she went slowly along with the cat in her arms. At last she reached the straggling street of Little Hayes, and then she found herself at her mother's door.

It was shut, of course, for it was nearly midnight. Hetty tapped with her hand, and when no notice was taken of this, she tried to call out, and could not. Then she picked up a little stone and hammered at the door. She heard the door of the inner room open and her mother's voice, crying, "Dan! Ned! Get up and come down. The house must be on fire, the police are knocking at the door."

Dan, however, was so sound asleep that he never heard her, and Ned only said, "Yes, ma'am, directly," and relapsed into sleep.

Mrs. Hardy and Matty, in their night-gowns, opened the door; and instead of the policeman they expected to see, there stood Hetty. The light from Mrs. Hardy's candle fell upon her white face as she stumbled in, letting the cat fall. Zelica walked over to the fireplace with an air of dignity, and selected the warmest spot to lie down in.

"Oh, you unfortunate child what's wrong with you now?" said Mrs. Hardy.

"I have killed Miss Flo!" Hetty answered, in a hoarse whisper. "She's dead, or dying; the master told me to go home, for he couldn't bear the sight of me. Mother," holding out her trembling hands, "don't you hate me, for oh, I'm just dead myself."

Mrs. Hardy made no answer in words. She just took the poor girl in her arms and kissed her. Hetty clung to her, but neither cried nor tried to explain; and Mrs. Hardy was very much frightened.

"Matty, get a chair; help me to put her in it. There. Now tell me, Hetty, my poor child, tell me what happened. I'm very sure you never hurt Miss Flo a'purpose. Maybe things aren't as bad as you think."

"Yes, I'll tell you all. Where shall I begin? Oh, it was a girl gave me some shrimps—that was the beginning."

"Well?—go on. Did you give the child the shrimps to eat?"

"No—oh, no! It was—Zelica. She—mother, I can't remember. I'm worn out. Matty, don't look at me like that—you've no call to be afraid of me. I'll go away if you like, but take care of Zelica—Miss Flo's pet."

"The girl isn't herself," said Mrs. Hardy. "Help me to get her to bed, Matty; maybe she'll come to when she has slept."

They made her a cup of tea, and then got her to bed. She fell asleep at once; and in the morning her mind was somewhat clearer. But she was not a bit like Hetty. She told her story, but she never once cried over it. If she had wept and bemoaned herself as usual, her mother would have had plenty to say to her, but this trembling, silent girl frightened the good woman out of her wits.

It was on Friday night that Hetty came home, and on Saturday she was too ill to get up; but Mrs. Hardy made inquiries, and found out that the child was certainly alive. On Sunday Hetty dressed herself, and said, "I'll go up to Adelaide Terrace. Maybe Mrs. Goodenough may know something."

"I'll go with you," said Matty. "I'll be back in time for church, mother."

The two sisters walked together, almost in silence. The door was opened by Mrs. Goodenough. This worthy creature had questioned Lina, and had a general idea as to what had happened.

"Well!" said she, "I think, in your place, Hetty Hardy, I'd have had the decency to stay away."

"Have you heard how Miss Flo is?"

"Just alive—that's all. There's that boy crying again! Master John, if you don't stop, I'll spank you! The master brought the three home, and said I must stay here and take care of them."

"Troublesome they are, too—but of course I couldn't refuse."

"They're all crying," said Hetty miserably. "Mrs. Goodenough, let me come in and mind them."

"Let you come in! The master says to me, says he, 'Mrs. Goodenough, I look to you—I've turned Hetty Hardy out for bad conduct, and if she comes here, send her about her business; character she'll get none,' says he, 'and I'll send a policeman after her if the child dies, for it's manslaughter, if not murder!' So good-bye, Hetty; don't be coming here any more. It's my turn to shut the door with you on the wrong side of it now."

She shut the door accordingly.

"Hetty dear, the half of that is not true. Mr. Eyre never spoke like that. You never meant to hurt the child, and—"

"No, I did not. But it's all my fault. Nothing's too bad for me!" And she turned wearily to walk home again.

On the way they met Fred Smith, who you may remember was employed in the Little Hayes post office.

"Why, Hetty!" he cried. "Whatever ails you?"

Hetty shook her head and walked on, but Matty lingered to tell Fred what was wrong.

"Poor Hetty!" he said; "and she is so fond of the child! I'll tell you what, Matty: I'll go this very moment, and find out about the trains, and I'll go to R—, and bring Hetty word how the child is."

"But, Fred, it is Sunday!"

"Yes, and my Sunday out, or I could not go. Oh, never you mind, Matty; I'm sure I am not doing wrong in trying to comfort poor Hetty when she's in such trouble. I owe her a good turn, for she made me downright ashamed of myself once."

It was late in the evening when he came to the Hardy's.

"Is that you, Fred Smith?" Mrs. Hardy said. "Dan's out."

"I've brought Hetty good news, ma'am. The little girl is much better, they think. Mr. Eyre is coming home to-morrow, but Mrs. Eyre is to stay till the child can be moved."

"Oh, Fred, thank you!" said Hetty. "It's very kind of you to come and tell me."

"He did more than that for you," Matty said. "He went to R— to inquire."

"Oh, I like to get a sight of the sea," Fred remarked hurriedly. "Good-night, ma'am. I must get home."

"It was very kind, all the same," said Hetty again. "Oh, if Miss Flo gets well, what a load will be off my heart! They can never forgive me, I know; but I do love Miss Flo."







IT was a very, very sad time for Hetty. She did not know, when she used to cry and bewail herself over her misfortunes, that she could be as unhappy as she was now. She longed for news of little Flo, and many a time did she steal up to Adelaide Terrace to question Mrs. Goodenough, at times when she knew that Mr. Eyre was out.

Worthy Mrs. Goodenough gave her scant information, and less comfort. If she might be believed, Mr. Eyre spent a good deal of his scanty leisure in telling her that he thought Hetty very little better than a murderer, and that she should never so much as see Miss Flo again.

Hetty was so dejected that she believed all this, and even thought that Mr. Eyre did not say a word too much; but Matty stoutly declared that Mrs. Goodenough invented these speeches for Hetty's benefit.

Mrs. Hardy had no reason to complain of Hetty now, for she worked hard all day, and never cared to go out, except for her melancholy pilgrimage to Adelaide Terrace, or to go to church.

Meantime, little Flo was really very ill, and suffering greatly both in mind and body. Her terror about the big black dog was such that the doctor said that no questions must be asked about her part in the day's misadventures, nor must she be in any way reminded of them.

Mrs. Eyre, however, did not forget poor Hetty, and she took some trouble to find out that the story she had told her master was the true one. The shrimp-girl, and a lad who had met the poor girl in the lane, and put her into the right road, confirmed Hetty's story. Not many women, with little Flo before their eyes, would have taken so much trouble about poor, heedless Hetty, who certainly was fortunate in her mistress.

After about a month Flo got better. The pain decreased, and she became calmer and more like her little self. Of course, Mrs. Eyre was anxious to get home, for the three children there were both unhappy and troublesome under Mrs. Goodenough's care. So as soon as it was at all safe Mr. Eyre came to R—, and Flo was carefully conveyed home.

Up to this time the child had not spoken of Hetty since her mother had silenced her constant cry for her. But as she grew stronger, and returned to her familiar home and her familiar habits, Mrs. Eyre became aware that there was something weighing on little Flo's heart,—some question that was often on her lips, though she seemed afraid to ask it. A little questioning soon made the child speak out.

"Mamma, you bid me speak no more of Hetty. I know the big dog must have killed Zelica, but did he kill my dear Hetty too?"

"Oh no, my dear child. Hetty is quite well, and safe in her mother's house."

"Then why might I not speak of her?"

"You misunderstood me, dear; you kept calling, calling, and I only meant to quiet you."

"But if Hetty was not hurt, why did she not stay with me and nurse me, mamma?"

"Well; dear, Hetty was to blame about that day—she had left the hut while you were asleep, to search for Zelica, I believe; but, indeed, I do not know exactly what happened. Papa sent Hetty away."

Flo was too well taught to question papa's doings; but that very evening she began begging him to bring Hetty back.

"I want her so much. I do love Hetty. Just tell her that 'Miss Flo' wants her, and I know she will come at once. She loves me so."

"My dear, I sent her away because it was through her carelessness that this accident happened to you. When mamma has time, she will look about for a nice, kind girl to carry you; and now we'll say no more about Hetty."

To this hint Flo declined to attend. She was very weak, and mamma had others to attend to now, and could not devote herself to Flo as she did while at R—, and Flo cried for Hetty far too often for her own good, and began to look as bad as ever.

Hetty, no longer daring to come to the house, used now to waylay Mrs. Goodenough on her way home, to ask about Miss Flo. One day the old woman did not appear at her usual time; it was quite evening before she came, but Hetty waited all the time.

"Well, Hetty, here you are, to bother me about that child, that's the worrit of the whole house! The crossest, complainingest little worry that ever I did see! Morning, noon, and night, the cry is—"

Here Mrs. Goodenough paused. She had very nearly said the word "'Hetty,'" but that, she thought, would rejoice the poor girl, so she substituted "'Zelica.'"

"'Zelica! I want Zelica!' That's always on her lips; little peevish brat! I wonder how her mother keeps her hands off her!"

"I declare," cried Hetty, "I never thought of that. I suppose they think Zelica is lost."

"Lost she surely is, and a good thing too. But that redic'lous child thinks some dog ate her! She was in such a state this morning, declaring I hurt her lifting her up, that we could get nothing done. That's why I'm late. Mrs. Eyre's going to get a girl in your place, otherwise I'd have to quit; but I suppose I shan't be turned out this time, as you're not there to carry tales."

All this did Mrs. Goodenough say, with the amiable wish to make Hetty miserable; but this time she failed, for Hetty did not know what she was saying. She was thinking about Zelica, and Zelica's little mistress, and now with a hasty "good-evening" she turned away and went quickly home. Mrs. Goodenough immediately made a kind of general proclamation that "Hetty Hardy was getting to be a greater fool every day."

Hetty went home, and procured a sheet of notepaper and Matty's pen and ink. She then sat down to write. It took her a long time, but at last, with a deep sigh, she folded up her paper, caught up Zelica from her comfortable nook by the fire, and ran out into the now almost dark evening.

The Eyres were at supper, or tea, as they called it. Flo was on her sofa, looking smaller than ever; presently Lina and Edgar ran off to play, and Mr. Eyre drew a chair over and sat down near Flo.

"Come, my little girl, you haven't eaten any of the nice bread and jam I cut for you. Try to eat a little bit, Flo. Why are you crying? You make poor mamma and me very sad."

"I can't help it, papa. I am so sorry for poor dear Hetty. I do want Hetty—I love her."

"What is that?" cried Mrs. Eyre, as a slight noise was heard.

"It was the window. I suppose the sash has closed a bit. I must see to it to-morrow, or it may catch somebody's fingers."

But the sash had not closed—quite the contrary. Some one outside had pushed it up a tiny bit more, and behold!—in walked, fat, snow-white, and beautiful as ever, Mrs. Zelica! Purring loudly, she marched over to the sofa, sprang up, curled herself up in her own particular place, and looked at the astonished assembly with a condescending and self-satisfied air. What a fuss a little dog would have been in! What waggings of the tail, and ecstatic wriggles, mingled with small strangled squeals of joy at seeing his dear mistress again! But Zelica, being but a cat, just blinked at them all, and felt important.

"Why! Oh, my Zelica! Is this you? Then he didn't eat you? Where have you been? Who brought you? Oh, mamma! 'Twas Hetty—my dear, dear Hetty! Oh, run, call her to me! I do love Hetty!"

Mr. Eyre sprang up and went to the door; but Hetty was gone.

Flo did not know how to make enough of Zelica. But the loving little heart was not satisfied. Mrs. Eyre, who had gone to the window when her husband ran to the door, had found poor Hetty's letter, but she slipped it into her pocket, and said nothing about it until the children were in bed. Then she said,—

"John, there was a letter left on the window-sill. I have it here. I did not want to excite poor Flo. Here it is, dear; read it to me."

For she had baby in her arms.

"'My dear mistress,'" began John, in a stern tone of voice, which, however, softened as he read on,—

   "'I hope I may be forgiven for writing to you. Mrs. Goodenough told me to-night that Miss Flo still cries after Zelica. I did not know that she was well enough to care for her yet. I found her at the station that day; she must have followed me there.'"

   "'Dear mistress, try to forgive me. I am too sorry to know how to say it. I do not feel as if I could ever be happy any more. After all your kindness, and the master's, such a return to make and, loving Miss Flo with all my heart, to be so wicked about her. I know master was right to send me off, and he never could trust me any more. I am glad Miss Flo has forgotten me. I pray continually that she may grow strong and well, and I hope your new girl will be fond of her, and patient with her.'"

   "'If you could say you forgive me, maybe I could be more at rest. Sometimes I get stupid, thinking of Miss Flo; for indeed, ma'am, though you may well not believe it, I do love both of you, and I think I shall never forget what I felt when I got back to the hut, and could not find her.'"

"'I remain, ma'am,'"

"'Your poor, bad servant,'"



"Poor girl," said John Eyre to himself, as he folded up the letter. "That old Goodenough! Why, Flo thought Zelica was dead; and as to forgetting Hetty, I wish she had!"

"It would be very ungrateful of her if she had, for Hetty was very good to her."

"Poor girl!" said the master again.

"John, dear, I must have a girl; and, to be frank with you, I would rather have Hetty than a stranger. She is so gentle and patient, and so perfectly truthful. She is a really good girl, and it is not so easy to find a really good girl. Besides, Flo is too ill to be reasonable, and she will not like any stranger, because she is longing for Hetty."

"Well, dear, I know I told the girl never to let me see her face again, but—I suppose we had better make our poor little Flora as happy as we can while we have her with us. But I tell you fairly, I think we ought never to lose sight of the girl when she has the cart of Flo. She is so terribly heedless, though, as you say, a good girl for all that."

"Then I may see her to-morrow?"

"Yes; but don't tell Flo till you are sure of her."

So it came about that once again Mrs. Eyre tapped on the half-closed door of Mrs. Hardy's house, and was told to "come in."

"Why, if it isn't Mrs. Eyre!" cried Matty joyfully.

"Mrs. Eyre! Matty, you're a—But it is, for all that. Ma'am, I'm nearly ashamed to face you."

"You have no cause to be, Mrs. Hardy. Hetty is a good girl, and, if she was heedless, we must remember that she is very young. It was a great misfortune; but, you know, if the dog had not awakened my poor little girl, no harm would have been done. Where is Hetty?"

"I sent her into town for some things we wanted, but she must soon be home. A dog, did you say? I've heard nothing of a dog. Indeed, Hetty does not rightly know yet what happened to Miss Flora."

"Well, Hetty went, as you, I am sure, know, to look for the little cat. Zelica led her a regular chase, and when she got back the child was gone."

"Yes," said Matty, "and the shawls on the path, and the cat's basket all torn, and some shrimps a girl gave her all mashed up. Oh, ma'am! she dreams of it often—you never saw the like."

"What had really happened was this. Flo woke up to find the dog—a big, rough-haired creature-tearing at the cat's basket; and, I confess, I think it was well for Zelica that she was not in it; but the dog would not have hurt Flo on any account; in fact, he did not touch her. She screamed for Hetty, the dog got at the shrimps and tried to eat them, and while he was at that work my poor little girl got up and tried to run away. She actually dragged herself some way down the steep path, when the dog came after her, and she fell. Mr. Eyre thinks that the creature saved her from falling over the edge, for he was sitting between her and it, in great distress. He belongs to the stationmaster, and is a most good-natured dog, very fond of children."

Matty had seen her sister come in, but Mrs. Eyre did not, her back being turned to the door. Hetty stood, listening and trembling, and now seemed about to steal out again; but Matty stopped her.

"Now, Hetty," said she, "you know what really happened."

Mrs. Eyre turned round, and Hetty covered her face with her hands. Mrs. Eyre fully expected a burst of tears, and "Oh, I'm so sorry, ma'am!" but there were neither tears nor words.

"My poor girl! My poor Hetty! Have you never a word to say to me?"

"No, not one." Mrs. Hardy spoke for her. "There's something come to the girl, ma'am, for dear knows her tears and her tongue used to be ready enough. I used to be tired hearing, 'Oh I'm so sorry, mother!'"

"Oh, I used to say that," said Hetty; "but I was only sorry because things were broken, or because you were angry. I was not sorry for my own fault, because I did not think it a fault—only a misfortune. Though Matty warned me, and made me promise to pray against it, I never did—I forgot. I thought how unlucky I was to be so thoughtless; but since I've been at home I've been thinking, and I see now that it's a sin. Oh, ma'am, if you could only forgive me, I'd take heart and try to do better. I'll take Matty's way now, for I'm sure it's the right one."

"You are quite right, Hetty. We are all of us more given to one fault than to others, and only God can cure us of them. He gives us time, and grace, and many lessons; some, sad ones. This has been a sad one to you, but you see it has opened your eyes to your sin. As to forgiving you, I do indeed, Hetty, and so does Mr. Eyre."

"And Miss Flo? Oh! Does she forget me altogether?"

"Forget you? No, indeed—she is never done crying for you. And she is so ill and so weak that you must come back to her, Hetty."

Hetty opened both mouth and eyes as wide as ever she could, and uttered the most extraordinary shout; the poor girl really did not know what she was doing.

"Hetty! Behave, do! To yell like that in a lady's very ears! Eh! Here come the tears! I've got my poor Hetty back again. I didn't know that one with a silent tongue and dry eyes. You're a lucky girl, Hetty, to have such people to do with as your master and mistress; and indeed, ma'am, the girl's been breaking her heart after you."

Matty took her sister away into the other room, where she kissed her, and coaxed her, and cried with her, and altogether contrived to quiet her so that she was in a fit state to set out at once with her mistress.

"Dan shall bring your things up in the evening, Hetty," said her mother. "And now, my dearie dear, remember this time as long as you live, and don't fall back into idle ways. Remember what Matty said to you: you'll find it's true. These thoughtless doings are real sins, and it's only God can change your heart. God bless you, Hetty! I'm glad for you, child."

On the way to Adelaide Terrace Hetty asked many questions about Flo's state.

"I don't see how you can bear the sight of me, ma'am, nor Miss Flo either."

"You'll soon know what she thinks about it, Hetty. And you know, if you had got back and found her still asleep, so that no harm was done, your fault would have been exactly the same, yet you would have expected me to forgive you. It seems to me, therefore, that we ought to forgive you now. You must learn not to measure a fault by its consequences; you were wrong to leave the child, and it would have been just as wrong if poor Black Rover had not visited the hut while you were absent. Do you understand, Hetty?"

"I think I do, ma'am. Oh, I must try very hard."

"Ah! Hetty, trying hard won't do, not by itself. I will talk to you about this some day soon. But now, here we are at home," Mrs. Eyre said, as she knocked at the door.

Mrs. Goodenough opened it; her face was really worth seeing when she recognised Hetty.

"You see, Mrs. Goodenough, I've brought Hetty Hardy back, and you will be pleased, I hope, to hear that it is partly your doing. She wrote to me after hearing from you that Miss Flo was still fretting after the cat. Stay here for a moment, Hetty; I will just say a word to the child and then call you."

But it was Flo's weak little voice that called—

"Hetty! Oh Hetty! My own good Hetty! Come to me quick!"

It was not for a few days that Mrs. Eyre found time for the talk with Hetty which she had promised her. But one morning, Flo being asleep, and the others out, Mrs. Eyre said: "Hetty, you know you and I were to have a serious talk; for I did not say what I wished to say to you that evening."

"I remember, ma'am. You were saying that trying hard won't do, by itself. Ma'am, if you'll believe me, Matty told me that when I was coming here, that first time, and I never minded. I didn't really understand. But I do now. I see plain enough that it is not in my own strength that I can cure my heedlessness. And I know now that it is a sin, and not just a misfortune, as I used to call it. But indeed, ma'am, I do not think I could ever forget this lesson."

"Perhaps not. But, Hetty, try to think of what I am going to say to you. You are an affectionate girl, and so, to please those you love, you would do nearly anything. When you ran off to search for Zelica, I know well it was because the loss of the little cat would have grieved Miss Flo so much. But you see what came of it, and you know now that you did wrong. Now, had you asked yourself, not what would please Miss Flo, but what it was your duty to do—then you would have stayed at your post, and the child would have been safe."

"So it always is, Hetty. The moment our motive is less than the highest; the moment we act to please this person or that, without remembering that we have to please God, that moment we go wrong. I want you to pray, as Matty said to you; but, dear Hetty, pray that God will give you such a love for Him, your Father, who sent His Son to save you from your sins, that to please him may become the first thought of your heart. Will you do this, Hetty? Do you understand me?"

"I do, ma'am. You've said the like to me before, and so has Matty, but I didn't heed; I seemed not to understand. But all the time I was so unhappy about Miss Flo, those thoughts seemed to come back to me. And I will pray, as you tell me, ma'am. Indeed, I do love Him even now, though not as I ought; for He has been very merciful to me. Oh, ma'am!—when I think that she might have been killed! How could I have borne it, when it was my doing?"

"Indeed, Hetty, we all have much to be thankful for."

Well, if Hetty was not entirely cured of her heedlessness, she was certainly cured of treating it as a mere misfortune, for which she was to be pitied. And the best proof of her improvement was that in no long time Mr. Eyre quite laid aside his distrust of her, and ceased to be uneasy if she was left in charge of Flo.

Flo was very ill for a long time, and often they thought that a few weeks more would see the close of her suffering and her life. But she at last began to improve; and, to the great joy of all who loved her, she continued to get steadily better, until at last she could walk about nearly as well as Lina. She grew a great deal, too, and health brought back her pretty pink colour, and the unchildlike gravity vanished from her face.

Indeed, if the truth must be told, Miss Flora was rather a troublesome lassie for a time; for it seemed as if all the fun and frolic she had missed had to be got through somehow. But she sobered down again, and is a very good girl, and a great comfort to her parents. Lina is married, and Flo is the home daughter, helping her mother, and caring for the younger children.

As to Hetty, after ten years of faithful service, she left her dear mistress, and still dearer Miss Flo, to become the wife of Fred Smith, who is now postmaster in the very office where she was once too late for the London post, thanks to the attractions of Punch and Judy. And as Fred is a good, steady, God-fearing man, we may hope that she will be as happy as she deserves to be, I think; even though she once earned the name of Heedless Hetty.




Butler & Tanner, The Selwood Printing Works, Frome, and London.