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unhappy, would have given her courage to go to several of the farm-houses to apply for a situation. But some persons to whom she went, told her that her lameness unfitted her for stirring work; and when she went to one respectable farmer's wife, who wanted a girl to look after her children only, she was answered,“ that she came of a bad set, and could not be trusted.”—“ I could not think of putting any girl from Brokenford about my children,” said Mrs. Ashton: “ I wonder how you could think of coming to me.
Olive went slowly home across the common; the tears rolled down her cheeks. She had heard something like this before; she had seen it in people's faces; but none had yet spoken so plainly, so cruelly, she said at first. But she considered, and saw that it was all natural. Mrs. Ashton was right to consider her own children, and had no reason to think Olive different from the other people of Brokenford.
She gave up all thoughts of service, and settled to work at scraping bark, as long as the barn was open. For one reason she was glad to stay at home; no one else was kind to the poor old man in his infirm state, and he was fond of her.
She soon became handy at her work, and tried to shut her ears to all the foolish talk and bad language around her. There was much of it; for many of the worst characters in the parish worked in the barkbarn, not being able to get better employment. Alas! she too often heard the same at home; and she doubted how far she was right in sitting by while many wrong things were said and done. She was often puzzled, and often unhappy; for she felt the difficulty of going right without help. Often she felt tempted to anger, laziness, and especially to discontent. But still when she was looked down upon, she always took it as her due; and thought that, of course, those who had more advantages were somehow better than herself.
One duty she felt clear about,—that of going to church, if she could. She listened silently and eagerly when she heard that the first stone of the new church was laid ; and all through the autumn and winter, she would go from time to time to watch the building, and try to fancy how it would all be. Now and then she met Mrs. Payne there, who always spoke kindly to her. One day in the next summer, when the building appeared quite finished, she found her there, with two or three children. She was telling them how the bishop was to come there the next week, to consecrate the church. Olive did not like to ask questions ; but as she sat on a heap of the stones, which had been brought there for building, she listened to all that Mrs. Payne said, and understood that the bishop's prayers and blessing would make the place holy; and this increased her wish to go there to say her prayers.
Perhaps, ” she thought, “I shall grow better and happier when I pray to God in a holy place.”
She longed to go to the consecration. She knew there would be a great crowd; but she thought she should see the bishop, and could stand outside, and hear something. On the morning of that day she asked her aunt, in a trembling voice, if she could spare her. But she only received a rough answer: “ It was washing-day; and how could she think of it? With all she did, she was not worth the bread she eat.” Olive answered nothing, but swallowed down her tears, and went to the washing-tub. Her aunt, however, was not always unkind; and if it had been a fair or other merry-making, she would have suffered her to go, perhaps; but she could not understand why Olive should care about the church. Her grandfather might have spoken a word for her; but the poor old man had hitherto seemed to care little about the matter. He had never been regular at the parish church, and therefore he had little thought or feeling about the advantages of the new church to his family and neighbours.
Molly Lester had been a little vexed with herself when she saw Olive bear her disappointment so meekly. She said it would be all the same if Olive went next Sunday, when there would be service for the first time. She took some pains that Olive might have a clean gown and apron, and gave her some halfpence to get her shoes mended.
But when at last Sunday came, and Olive heard the bells ringing, her heart sank'withiu her. She felt ashamed of going all alone, and unworthy to enter so holy a place, -unfit to pray devoutly. She had often gone to church, in her childhood, in a careless way ; but she could not do so now. She went thoughtfully, and with such fear and reverence, that when she was within the door she trembled. She could not understand all the words of the prayers, but she tried to join in them, and she gave her whole mind to the service. It was a great comfort to her to hear the history of the pharisee and the publican. She had often read it; but it never struck her so before. She understood that the publican had leave to come to God's house, though he was a sinner, and that God received his prayer; and this seemed to tell her that she too was allowed to come. She hoped that constant coming would make her fit. The sermon too, which was upon this very parable, and on the state of mind fit for public worship, strengthened her in all this.
Much of all that I have related, Mrs. Payne could not tell; but she said enough to make Mr. and Mrs. Morton feel much interest about the poor lame orphan, and much desire to be useful to her. They agreed that a present of a Prayer-book would be a good beginning; and Mrs. Morton resolved to visit Olive the next day. The next morning, therefore, she set out for Brokenford.
It was a wild spot; and whichever way she looked, nothing but copses, bushes, and green turf, were to be seen, with here and there a cow, or a rough pony, or pigs and geese, feeding on the common. All at once, Mrs. Morton came to some scattered cottages, half hidden by trees, surrounded by stacks of turf and wood, and standing near a little brook with high gravelly banks, down which some steps had been made, for the purpose of drawing water. Some children, with bare feet and ragged clothing, were playing on the green.
Mrs. Morton opened the door of the first cottage: it was a wretched untidy place, and full of people. Molly Lester, the mother of the family, was a woman of forbidding appearance and uncouth manner. Mrs. Morton immediately knew Olive, who was standing by the washing-tub, and to-day she looked nearly as untidy as the rest; her clothes were dirty, and her hair rough and disordered. The whole appearance of things was so discouraging, that Mrs. Morton was half-inclined to turn back. The woman scarcely answered her, and never asked her to sit down. The other persons either stole out at a back door, or sat staring rudely, and the children ran away to hide themselves.
Mrs. Morton tried to talk to Olive, asking her if her walk to church tired her; if her leg was painful; and how old she was. But Olive could do nothing more than curtesy, and say,
No, ma'am.” She was not uncivil, like her aunt, but shy and awkward.
Mrs. Morton thought it neither the time or place to say more; so she gave her the Prayer-book, and wished her good-by kindly; The poor girl's eyes filled with tears; and though she said nothing, her looks spoke her gratitude.
As soon as the lady was gone, the cottagers crowded to the door to stare after her. One made observations on her dress; another on her way of speaking. Molly “hoped she should get something more than a Prayer-book out of her." Olive said nothing; but the visit was in her thoughts the whole day. She longed to get alone, to think about that and her Prayer-book.
In the evening she went down to the spring for
water. The low bright sun lit up the stems of the trees, and the green grass, with the red and yellow leaves that still hung on the branches. The day had been dark and gloomy, and this gleam of light seemed the more beautiful. Olive sat down a moment to rest by the bank. She saw nothing but the brook murmuring by her, and the bright colours of the woods. It seemed as if a gleam had come over her dark sаd life also. The voice of the good had spoken kindly to her. She said to herself, “ That kind lady looks on me as a fellow-Christian ; she is not like the pharisee in the parable."
[To be continued.]
The Circumcision, January 1st.
The Conversion of St. Paul, January 25th.
Ere the march of life begun, Such as guilt doth undergo;