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And the whole party turned into the bar, Then she whispered some words to her where Will was already ordering drink. mother, who also said, “ Poor thing!”
Meanwhile, the girl had gone steadily and “You will not lose this now, will you ?" said swiftly on her way, and she was now past | Miss Hamilton again, taking a sovereign from the Bayswater-road, and in Notting-hill; turning her purse. “Your mother gets this for the into Ladbrook-square, she knocked at the door work. Will you keep it safe?" of one of the houses there, and was presently “ Very safe, thank you, Miss," said Myra, admitted.
her eyes sparkling. “Tell Miss Hamilton, if you please," she “How will you carry it then? not in your said to the servant, “ that Myra Dawson has hand ?" come with the work.”
"I wiil put my purse in the bosom of my The maid ran up-stairs, and Myra sat down dress, and a pin through it, Miss,” said Myra. upon one of the ball chairs. What a nice, warm And unfastening her little shaw., she began house it seemed! how brightly the fire shone to stow away the money. In doing so a little through the open door of the dining-room! and gold locket, attached to a thin, worn bit of black what a fragrant smell of dinner came up the kit- ribbon, became displaced and fell outside her chen stairs close by! She could hear the voices of frock. the servants talking and laughing on the base- ! Grace pointed to it laughing, as she said, ment storey; she could hear children's voices at “Sweetheart already, Myra?” their merry play in the top of the house, and a “No, Miss, if you please; it's mother's," the sweet voice talking to the maid, who had ad- girl bastened to explain. “Poor father's likemitted her upon the drawing-room floor. ness is in it, and it's all she has of him.”
Presently the girl came running down to her “But your father is not dead, is he?” asked again-a smart little damsel, in a fly-away cap | Mrs. Hamilton. and a white muslin apron.
"We don't know, ma'am. He may be, for “Miss Hamilton says you are to come up,” we never hear of him; but mother has a notion she said to Myra.
that he might see this locket someday, someAnd Myra ran up-stairs, and went into the how, and know it, and so come home again.” warm, well-lighted drawing-room, and stopping “But how can he see it, if you keep it just inside the door, she dropped a curtsey. hidden?”
It was such a pretty room; the girl had never | "That's true, ma'am ; but I let it be seen seen anything so pretty before-with the clear when I'm going where it's likely he'd be. But bright fire in the low grate, the flowing curtains, I don't think he'll ever see it,” she added the pretty, soft-looking chairs, the open piano, sadly. the pictures, the books, the elegant little triflesi “You must only hope the best, Myra," said everywhere. By the fire sat an elderly lady, Grace, kindly. “And now, good night. Don't dressed in black silk, shading her face from lose your money; and tell your mother I am the blaze with a handsome Indian screen; be- greatly pleased with the work, and when I want side her stood & young girl, dressed in some more done I'll let her know." soft, flowing material, with gold ornaments in And then Miss Hamilton berself came down her ears and round her wrists-a pretty, gentle, and let the girl out into the frosty streets. happy-looking girl.
Away she went, walking faster than she had “Come in,” she said to Myra ; "come and walked before, eager to get home with the warm yourself. It is such a perisbing evening. i money; she was rejoicing over all the comforts How did you ever venture out ?"
it would buy for her mother, whose weakened “ Please, Miss," said Myra, “I don't mind health and failing eyesight weighed heavily upon the cold, and I had to come.”
Myra's heart. She was very proud of having “And you have brought my work, I see,” | worked the greater part of the piece of emsaid the young lady, taking the parcel from the broidery she had just delivered herself, for now girl. “Your mother keeps her word. I hope she could get plenty to do, and her mother it is well done."
could devote her whole time to the fancy-basket. “Look at it, Miss, if you please.”
making she had lately learned, and which did Miss Hamilton opened the parcel, and shook not try her eyes, out several pieces of elaborate embroidery.
Then she thought of the pretty warm house “Oh, mamina !” she exclaimed, “do look ; she had just left, and of the girl with the white it's lovely !”
hands who had spoken so kindly, and she won. Mrs. Hamilton got up, took out her gold dered if the rich ever had anything to trouble eyeglass, and examined the work.
them ; and as she walked, the little gold locket, " It is beautifully done indeed, Grace," she which she bad forgotten to put back inside her said. “Did your mother do it all herself ?" she dress, was swinging backwards and forwards added, turning to Myra.
like a pendulum. “No, ma'am, please. I did the most.”
It was bitterly cold now, and Myra’s rapid “But don't you go to school ?" asked Grace. pace scarce kept the numbness out of her feet;
“I used, Miss, until mother's eyes got weak. she soon reached the Edgware-road again, and I help her now as much as I can.” And tears again the same group was collected outside the sprang into Myra's eyes.
gin-palace, but they were not so quiet now; "Poor thing!" said happy Grace,
Will's drink had had its effect, and they were
all laughing loudly and exchanging coarse jests | knew! She worked and worked unceasingly, upon the passers-by; Will's laugh was the wearily, for Myra's sake, and for the sake of a loudest, and Will's jest the coarsest of them all. great hope, which no misery and no despair
Suddenly their roving eyes fell upon Myra's could kill-the hope that her husband would little figure, and the man called Ben cried out, come back to her again. And now that she had
"There's the little girl going back, Will, fought a brave battle with poverty, and con. that you stared so hard after a while ago. Let's quered -inasmuch as she and Myra had bread hare her in, and give her a glass. It will warm enough to eat and clothes enough to wear--a her this cold night."
terrible trial, that might bring back poverty in The child heard the words, and instantly its train, again was stealing upon her-she took flight, Ben and Will dashed after her; the feared that she was going blind. former, after a yard or two, stumbled and fell, Through the years that had passed, through bat tbe latter, being steady on his legs, soon starvation and utter wretchedness, she had overtook the trembling child.
never, even to get a temporary loan, parted "Hold hard, will you ?” he said, laying no with her little gold locket. It had been her light hand upon her shoulder. “I'm not going husband's gift, and she looked upon it as the to murder you."
one link left between them. It held his photo"Let me go! let me go!" she cried, clasping graph and a lock of his hair, How could she har bands in agony, and scared for her money, I part with it, when she remembered how it bad which she fancied he must have seen; she been given ?-how that sweet June evening, twisted like an eel in his hands, and contrived when they stood together under the limes, in to free herself, but just as she was darting off which myriads of bees were humming, he bad again he made a snatch at the little locket, unfolded it from a piece of paper, and which caught his eye at the moment; the slen- hung it round her neck, saying, as he did der ribbon gave way, and poor Myra fled on, so, that he wished it were diamonds for her fully conscious that her precious little trinket | sake! was gone, but too much terrified to stop to get And now she was about to hear that it was it back,
lost for ever, and her desire to keep the last She never drew breath until she reached, remnants of her fast-failing sight, in order that panting and exhausted, the door of her mother's she might gaze at the face she loved so well, humble lodging, which was situated in one of would vanish too. the narrow streets off Oxford-street. She re- Slowly Myra came up the stairs, but the mained standing outside for fully five minutes, mother knew the child's step, and she turned all the joy gone out of her heart, for what would in her chair to watch the door, although she money be to her mother without that little could not see plainly across the room. She had trumpery piece of gold? Yes, trumpery it might a lovely face still, but it was seamed and marked be to all the world, but precious to her above with trouble, and the wistful, melancholy exall the jewels in the regalia!
pression which so often attends the want of Had it not been given to her by, and did it sight, was beginning to steal over her dark not hold all that remained to her now of, the brown eyes. man who had won her young heart in the “Is it you, my child?" she said. “You have happy old days that never could come back any made good speed.” more?-days when, as bonny Mary Chester, “ It is cold, mother, and I walked fast. Here, the pride of the village, she had sung blithely mother, Miss Hamilton gave me this." about her work in her father's home, down in And taking the purse from the bosom of her Cornwall; a home that was like dreamland to dress, she placed it in Mrs. Dawson's hand. ber now, so far off and hazy did it seem; al “What ails you, Myra? Your voice is home from which all the world looked bright, shaking. Are you cold, my darling?" and where no sun was too hot and no wind too | “No, mother, I'm not cold: but oh!”—and cold, and from which she would go out to meet poor Myra's voice rose to a sort of cry—“what kon, handsome William Dawson, as he came will you say to me? what will you do? It's Whistling home from his day's work at the gone! stolen !-your locket !--the picture !" * great house," with his tools slung over his For one instant a gleam of something like shoulder in a limp basket.
anger crossed Mrs. Dawson's face, and she And what had that time brought? It had clutched Myra's arm fiercely. brought marriage-happiness for a season-the “ Gone!" she exclaimed. “And you have birth of Myra-then temptation to the husband, dared to come home to me without it?" And resisted for a time, but more and more faintly then her voice and manner changed suddenly ; as it became stronger--then straitened means, she threw her arms round Myra's neck, and then failing health-finally, desertion, loneliness, broke into a bitter cry—“My child, my child ! and despair. A year or two passed ; Myra grew forgive me! I don't know what I say.” into a fine, sturdy little girl ; but the husband Then Myra told her all, and the poor woman never wrote, never was heard of; and at length listened with clasped hands and bent head. the unhappy wife took her broken heart, and “God forgive him for taking it,” she said her little child, away ftom her native village, to quietly, when she had heard all. “I fear I hide herself in the great wilderness of London. never can.” How she struggled to live on there, God! “Hush, mother! don't say that. Maybe it will come back to you yet. The man was not a very different from any other establishment of thief; and if I ever see him again—which I'm a like nature. sure to do, please God-I'll ask him for it; he' It was brilliantly lighted, of course ; but was just drunk a little, and I'm sure he's sorry there was no group outside the door. Myra now. He did not look like a bad, wicked man.” stole up gently, pushed back the swinging
“If he had but taken the money, and left me panel, and peeped in. Some six or eight men that!" moaned poor Mrs. Dawson, rocking her. were standing drinking, and her heart gave a self to and fro. “I'd give all I had in the great bound as she recognised one or two of world for that bit of gold; all I had in the the faces; but, alas! the face she wanted, she world.”
saw only too soon, was not among them. And then, standing there, looking at her What was to be done? Should she go boldly mother, watching the worn face, and seeing the in, and remind the comrades of the man she tears of regret and longing for the lost treasure was seeking of the adventure, and ask them which rolled quietly over it, Myra vowed a vow where he was to be found? But her courage that she would never rest until she got that failed: she was just at the age when roughness treasure back, and get it back, too, before the and coarseness from the other sex was very hard year closed : it should be her New Year's gift to bear--that is, hard to those who are innately to her mother.
refined and modest, as was poor Myra. So she After the outbreak, upon hearing of its loss, let the door swing to again, and, wrapping her Mrs. Dawson never spoke of the locket again. arms tightly in her shawl, she remained It seemed as if she had, with a great effort, put standing outside, and resolved to wait. the thought of it from her mind; but it was not! And she did wait, or rather walked, patiently 80-she had always worn it herself, except when to and fro for more than an hour, listening and Myra went out without her, when she used to watching. The crowd in the street grew somehang it round the girl's neck, as she had done what thinner; it was getting very late, and her upon the evening of its loss; and a hundred mother would be wondering what had become times a day Myra would see her mother's of her. Just as she was going to give up in fingers wander to her throat, and feel about despair, and to return home, the door of the vaguely for the little trinket, which she was gin-palace opened, and two of the men came wont to hold as she might have held the hand out. They were not very tipsy-at least, one of of a friend.
them was not, and he supported his companion. And so the days slipped by. Christmas came They turned towards Regent-street, and that and went, and New Year's Day was fast ap- being her road home, Myra followed them, proaching. Myra had thought over, at least, a and she tried to keep as close to them as poshundred plans for the recovery of the locket, sible without being observed, in the hope of but not one of them were feasible. She had learning something from their conversation. imagined the most extraordinary schemes, not But they had no conversation, so to speak. one of which could by any possibility have suc- One of them was argumentative, surly, and ceeded. As she sat at her work she saw, not inclined to be musical-he stammered out the embroidery before her, but the lost trinket ; snatches of songs, picked up at some as she walked through the streets, she kept her theatre or “music-hall;" the other seemed eyes upon the ground, as though it were likely wholly bent upon keeping his companion that the gleam of the gold might shine upon her straight upon his course. At length, under a from some crevice in the pavement.
| lamp-post, the drunken man came to a standAt last, and quite as a forlorn hope, it oc- still, and seemed to insist upon being taken curred to her to go to the place where the man somewhere out of the direct road; his comhad been standing when she had passed on panion remonstrated, and Myra's heart again that, to her, eventful evening. Perhaps he / beat fast as she heard his wordsmight be there again; and, at least, she could “I tell you, Ben, it's no use; he has cut his appeal to him to let her have the locket back. old mates since, that night, and I, for one, am Yet even to her hopeful young imagination it too proud to push myself where I'm not wel. did not seem probable that he had kept it ever come. Come away home, there's a good chap." since; but, still, of all her designs for its re “I'm not a good chap, and I won't go home. covery, it was the only one which she could | I'll go to Will, and tell him he's a sneak! I attempt, or which had any promise of success. / must go to Will, I say! Let me go." And on New Year's Eve, about the same hour And he struggled hard to free himself. that she had before gone to Ladbrook-square, “Well, go, and be to you!" cried she set out. She had some trifling purchases the other at last. “But I tell you be won't to make for their modest housekeeping, which speak to you; he was never the same since served as an excuse for her absence.
that night.” Again she walked quickly through the frosty “There was poison in the little gold box," streets, and soon reached the Marble Arch, close hiccupped Ben; “was that it ? Never mind, to which the tavern was situated. How well I'll have him out; he won't turn on an old pal. she remembered the very look of the place! Will was always ready to stand treat to a friend She would, she thought, have known it out of --Will's a rare good un." a hundred, although there was nothing about it | And on he staggered, Myra following, and
hoping that nothing would turn the drunken, ing forward on tiptoe, she looked into the man from his purpose now.
room. On they went, through bye-streets and dark ! It was a good-sized chamber, with a low-coved courts, until poor Myra began to fear that she ceiling, but the furniture in it was shabby and vould never be able to make her way home spare. There was a low bed, covered with a again. At last they stopped before an open coarse coloured rug, in one corner, a small table door-the door of a lodging-house evidently, for in the centre, a little painted deal press, and two there were lights in almost all the windows, and chairs. Upon one of the latter, with his arms people were passing in and out and up and dowa resting upon the table, and his head bent down the narrow stairs.
upon them, sat the strong man, with the swarthy “Will you go up?" inquired Ben's companion face and the dark hair, who was called by his of him.
companions “ Will." He was apparently asleep, The fellow looked up the dark entry for a for he was breathing regularly, and his figure moment, and then turning away, with the in- had the relaxed, pliant look which repose always consistency of drunkenness, he swore a great gives. cath that he would see Will before he'd For some time Myra watched him from the climb up that break-neck stair that night. | door ; then encouraged by the utter stillness,
Without another word, bis companion dragged she crept on into the room. Oh, how cautiously him off, and before Myra had time to realize she stepped, fearing to wake him, if he were folly what had happened, they were out of indeed asleep, yet longing for him to start up,
and see her, and hear what she had to say. She She was terribly disappointed ; she had been had been frightened at first, but she was quite led almost to the door of the man whom she calm then. He might be very angry; he might had been praying to meet, and now she must turn upon her for disturbing him; he might go back again without finding him. He might even strike her, but she knew he could not kill be in that house, it was true; but how was she her; and if she only got back the locket, what to look for him ?-what excuse was she to make mattered a few hard words, or even a blow? for asking for him? Just then she became So she crept on and on, and winced whn the aware that a ragged girl, of about her own age, boards creaked, and looked over her shoulder was standing leaning against the door-post every moment, thinking that her shadow was watching her. She did not look as if she would some one following her. be civil or obliging; but still it was better to At last, after many pauses, she reached the risk a snub than to lose a chance, so going a step table where Will sat; she could hear his breathforward, Myra asked timidly,
ing plainly enough now; she could see the long, “ Does a man called Will lodge here?” black hair, grizzled with grey, which fell over
The girl put her head on one side, and peered his hands, and which in another half-hour, at Myra with a pair of sharp, bird-like eyes. when the candle had burned down, would be
"And supposing he does, what does you want perilously near the flame. She was very close of him?" she asked, in a voice sharp as her to him, and a strange, vague, yearning kind of eyes.
pity crossed her young heart for that strong Myra had experience of London children, and man, who was so quiet in his deep repose. she thought she might be able to buy the in- What was he, and why was he so lonely? He formation she needed. Slipping her hand into did not seem poor, for his clothes were good; her pocket, she drew out a fourpenny piece, had he neither wife, nor child, not friends, but and holding it up, she said
drunken Ben, and such as he? Myra was "I'll give you that if you show me his very young, scarcely more than a cbild, but all room."
the desire to give love and sympathy, which is The child held out her thin, dirty hand. inherent in the hearts of most women, rose up "Don't you try to gammon me with your in her heart then. It was New Year's Eve, a tricks," she said. “Is it good ?" Then, solemn snd happy time, when most people, even having satisfied herself that the coin was genuine, the poorest, have something, or some one to she added : “You just cut along to the very care for near them; she was poor herself, but top of the house, and there you'll find Black she had her mother, and her mother had her. Will, as we calls him, and I wish you joy of Why was this poor fellow so lonely? As the your welcome when you get to him."
question again and again recurred to her, she Myra asked no more: with a swift step she restrained herself with difficulty from passing Went up sundry flights of stairs, and found her hand softly over his hair, and down upon herself presently upon a narrow landing, off his rough coat. which one room opened. The girl's heart was It was a curious scene — the strong man beating wildly, and she was obliged to sit down sleeping quietly, the timid girl standing over on the topmost step to recover herself. She him with pity in her eyes; and yet they were bad formed no plan of action-she could not strangers to each other. form one-she must trust to Providence; I fear But where was the locket? She was there she called it chance, if she called it anything. to get chat, and not to expend sympathy on the The room door was open, and a feeble light man who had taker it; but somehow it did not streamed out into the lobby-the light from a seem possible that her mother's treasure could solitary candle. Myra took courage, and steal.' be in that poor room. When a thing is precious to ourselves, or to one dear to us, we fancy that you of your locket; see, here it is, I'll carry it those in whose sight it is really worthless, will safe for you. Won't you trust me?" think it precious also, and care for it well. She' “I would rather carry it myself,” faltered looked about, and felt that it could not be there; Myra," and I can find my way home.” be bad sold it, he had lost it: ah! why had he “ There," he said, “take it; but at least I not kept it? She almost cried aloud in her sore must see you safe out of these queer dark disappointment.
streets. Tell me where you want to go.” She moved a little nearer to the front of the Myra named the place. sleeping man, and as she did so the glitter of “I'll put you into Oxford Street,” he ansomething which might be gold caught her swered, picking up a Glengarry bonnet from eyes upon the table : it was half hidden by the the foar. “Don't break your neck in the long, falling hair of the sleeper. An exclama- dark," he added, blowing out the candle. tion of joy rose to Myra's lips, and she fell upon The girl left the room before bim, and stood her knees to bring her eyes closer: she peered quietly waiting on the dark landing until he under the scattered locks ; had she dared she locked the door ; then she followed him downwould have pushed them aside, but, after all, stairs, and out into the street. She shivered as what need ? She knew the locket-she would the frosty air sent a chill through her. have known it had she not seen it half so well. “You're cold,” Will said, abruptly; "tie To get it was the next thing. If she could but this round you." spatch it out softly without waking him, and fly And before she could stop him he had unwith it unseen! What matter what he said rolled a thick woollen scarf from his own neck when he awoke and missed it?—there was no and Aung it about hers. His manner was very dishonesty in taking her own; and if she odd, Myra thought; there was a strange mixture aroused him, she would pray him, on her knees, of tenderness and roughness in it which she to give it to her for her inother's sake.
could not understand. It was as if Nature had Rising to her feet again she held the table made him tender, and habit had made him firmly with one band, while with the other she rough. tried to draw the little trinket towards her; but Myra remonstrated, but he would not listen, she was too eager and too much excited for such and walked on quickly in front. a delicate task, and more than once she touched In about half an hour they reached Oxfordthe bowed head with her trembling fingers, street, and the way had seemed very long to and then suddenly, just as the locket was within Myra. When she found herself again upon her reach, with a start the man awoke and familiar ground she stopped, and, not hearing sprang to his feet, and his dazzled and bewil- | her footfall after him, Will stopped too. “I dered eyes fixed themselves on Myra in utter am all right now," she said. “Here is your amazement: in an instant he seemed to have scarf, and thank you." divined her object in his room, for he clutched “Keep it," he answered, laying his broad the locket and thrust the hand which held it hand over her two little ones which were into his bosom.
loosening the knot upon the scarf; “I gave She flung herself upon her knees before him, you a weary tramp after your little box. I said and stretched out her hands imploringly; but before I never intended to bave taken it, but the not one word could she speak. Then as she ribbon snapped sudden-like; but I'm glad now crouched there looking up at him, with her I did, for " bonnet falling back, and her large brown eyes “You wouldn't if you had seen how mother (so like her mother's eyes) fixed upon his face, breaks her heart for it,” interrupted Myra, bita great and sudden change passed over him, the terly; "but it's all right now." expression of anger faded from his eyes; bis “It will be, may-be," he answered; " time mouth quivered, and his hand fell gently upon will tell. Good night, and a happy new year! the girl's upturned head.
Won't you shake hands?” Then, as if the touch had unloosed her Myra gave him her hand, but not heartily. tongue, she cried wildly : "Oh don't keep it She could not forgive him for the drunken from me. Let me have it, for mother's sake! frolic which had deprived her poor mother for That little bit of gold is all she has left to her so long of the one comfort of her life. So they of my father."
parted, and the girl instantly began to run: A gentle voice, a voice which she could every moment was now like an hour until she hardly think belonged to that great rough man, was by her mother's side. At last her house told her not to fear, and asked her how she had was reached : it was late for her to be out alone ; found him out; and when he heard, again the but she was too happy to think of that now. soft light shone in his eyes, and his dark stern She ran up the stairs, and into their little ace seemed to soften and grow young.
sitting-room: it was quite dark, save a glim“Come, my girl," he said at last, when Myra | mering spark of fire in the small grate. had finished her simple story, “it's late for you | “Mother!" she called softly—“mother !” But to be wandering alone in these streets; I'll take there was no answer. She went forward in si you home, and perhaps you'll say a prayer for lent terror, not knowing what she might find ; me this blessed New Year's Eve. I am very | but there, in the old arm-chair, she saw glad you found me out, for I never meant to rob | by the dim light the figure she loved. Worn