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Indeed, the place did for your presence call —
And if he find me pains-ful in my station,
OR, HOW TO ENCOURAGE THE POOR.
BY T. S. ARTHUR. *
Do you know of any poor body who does plain sewing?' asked Mrs. Lander of a neighbour upon whom she called for the particular purpose of making this inquiry. I have a good deal of work that I want done, and I always like to give my plain sewing to people that need it.'
'I think I know of a person who will suit you,' replied Mrs. Brandon, the lady to whom the application had been made. She is a poor widow woman, with four children dependent upon her for support. She sews neatly. Yesterday she brought me home some little drawers and night-gowns that were beautifully made. I am sure she will please you, and I know she deserves encouragement.'
“What is her name?' • Mrs. Walton; and she lives in Larkin's court.' Thank you, ma'am. I will send for her this morning. You say
she is very poor?'
• You may judge of that yourself, Mrs. Lander. A woman who has 'four children to support by the labour of her own hands cannot be very well off.'
* Woman's Trials.' By T. S. Arthur, Philadelphia, U.S. : Lippincott and Co.
• No; certainly not. Poor creature! I will throw all I can in her way, if her work should please me.'
*I am sure that will be the case, for she sets very neatly.'
Mrs. Lander having found out a poor woman who could do plain sewing—she was always more ready to employ persons in extreme poverty than those who were in more easy circumstances-immediately sent a summons for her to attend upon her ladyship. Mrs. Walton's appearance, when she came, plainly enough told the story of her indigence.
• Mrs. Brandon informs me,' said Mrs. Lander, 'that you do plain sewing very well, and that you stand in need of work. I always like to encourage the industrious poor.' The woman inclined her head, and Mrs. Lander went on.
you make shirts ? ' Yes, ma'am, sometimes.' Do you consider yourself a good shirtmaker?'
I don't call myself anything very extra ; but people for whom I work scem generally pleased with what I do.'
I have six shirts cut out for Mr. Lander. How soon can you make them?'
'I couldn't make them all in less than a couple of weeks, as I have other work that must be done within that time.'
• Very well. That will do.'
The poor woman took the shirts home, feeling grateful to Mrs. Brandon for having recommended her, and thankful to get the work. In order to give satisfaction to both her new customer, and those for whom she already had work in the house, she divided her time between them, sewing one day for Mrs. Lander, and the next on the work received before hers came in. At the end of a weck, three of the shirts were ready, and, as she needed very much the money she had earned in making them, she carried them over to Mrs. Lander on Saturday afternoon.
'I have three of the shirts ready,' said she, as she handed to the lady the bundle she had brought.
*Ah! have you?' remarked Mrs. Lander, as, with a grave face, she opened the bundle and examined the garments. This examination was continued with great minuteness, and long enough almost to have counted every stitch in the garments. She found the shirts exceedingly well made; much better than she had expected to find them.
• When will you have the others ready?' she asked as she laid them aside.
'I will try and bring them in next Saturday.' • Very well.'
Then came a deep silence. The poor woman sat with the fingers of both hands moving together uneasily, and Mrs. Lander looked away out of the window and appeared to be intent upon something in the street.
· Are these made to please you?' Mrs. Walton ventured to ask. * They'll do,' was the brief answer; and then came the same dead silence, and the same interest on the part of the lady in something passing in the street.
Mrs. Walton wanted the money she had earned for making the shirts, and Mrs. Lander knew it. But Mrs. Lander never liked to pay out money, if she could help it; and as doing so always went against the grain, it was her custom to put off such unpleasant work as long as possible. She liked to encourage the very poor, because she knew they generally worked cheaper than people who were in easier circumstances; but the drawback in their case was, that they always wanted money the moment their work was done.
Badly as she stood in need of the money she had earned, poor Mrs. Walton felt reluctant to ask for it until the whole of the number of shirts she had engaged to make were done; and so affer sitting for a little while longer, she got up and went away. It happened that she had expended her last sixpence on that very morning, and nothing was due to her fron any one but Mrs. Lander. Two days at least would elapse before she would have any other work ready to take home, and what to do in the mean time she did not know. With her the reward of every day's labour was needed when the labour was done; but now she was unpaid for full four days' work, and her debtor was a lady much interested in the welfare of the poor, who always gave out her plain sewing to those who were in need of encouragement.
By placing in pawn some few articles of dress, and paying a heavy interest upon the little sum of money advanced thereon, the poor widow was able to keep hunger from her door until she could finish some work she had in hand for a lady more considerate than Mrs. Lander. Then she applied herself with renewed industry to the three shirts yet to make, which she finished at the time she promised to have them done. With the money to be received for these, she was to pay six shillings to get her clothes from the pawnbroker's shop, buy her little boy a pair of shoes-he had been from school a week for want of them, -and get a supply of food for the many mouths she had to feed.
Mrs. Lander received her with that becoming dignity of manner and gravity which certain persons always assume when money has to be paid out. She, as it behoved her to do, thoroughly examined every seam, line of stitching, and hem upon each of the three shirts, and then, after slowly laying the garments upon a table, sighed and looked still graver. Poor Mrs. Walton felt oppressed; she hardly knew why.
Does the work please you?' she ventured to ask.
I don't think these are as well made as the others,' said Mrs. Lander. 'I thought they were better made,' returned the woman. Oh, no.
The stitching on the bosoms, collars, and wristbands isn't nearly so well done.'
Mrs. Walton knew better than this; but she did not feel in any humour to contend for the truth. Mrs. Lander took up the shirts again, and made another examination.
• What is the price of them?' she asked.
* Three shillings apiece?!
“I have never received less than that, and some for whom I sew always pay me four shillings.'
Three shillings! It is an imposition. I know plenty of poor women who would have been glad of these shirts at half the price yes, or at a third of the price either. Three shillings, indeed! Oh, no—I will never pay a price like that. I can go to any professed shirtmaker in the city, and get them made for three or four shillings.'
'I know you can, ma'am,' said Mrs. Walton, stung into self-possession by this unexpected language. “But why should I receive less if my work is as kell done?'
A pretty question, indeed!' retorted Mrs. Lander, thrown off her guard. “A pretty question for you to ask of me! Oh, yes! You can get such prices if you can, but I never pay them to people like you. When I pay three or four shillings apiece for shirts, I go to regular shirt-makers. But this is what we generally get for trying to encourage the poor. Mrs. Brandon said that you were in needy circumstances, and that it would be a charity to give you work. But this is the way it generally turns out.'
• What are you willing to pay?' asked the poor woman, choking down her feelings.
• I have had shirts as well made as these for one shilling and eightpence many and many a time. There is a poor woman in Southwark, who sews beautifully, who would have caught at the job. She works for the shops, and does not get over one shilling for fine shirts. But as Mrs. Brandon said you were suffering for work, I thought I would throw something in your way. One and eightpence is an abundance; but I had made up my mind, under the circumstances, to make it two, and that is all I will give. So here is your moneytwelve shillings.'
And Mrs. Lander took out her purse, and counted out twelve shillings upon the table. Only for a few moments did the poor woman hesitate. Bread she must have for her children; and if her clothes were not taken out of pawn on that day, they would be lost. Slowly did she take up the money while words of stinging rebuke were on her tongue. But she forced herself to keep silence; and even departed, bearing the wrong that had been laid upon her without uttering a word.
• Did you get my shoes as you promised, mother ? ' eagerly inquired her little boy, as she came in, on returning from the house of Mrs. Lander.
“No, dear,' replied the heart-full mother, in a subdued voice. “I didn't get as much money as I expected.'
• When will you buy them, mother?' asked the child, as tears filled his eyes. 'I can't go to school in this way. And he looked down at his bare feet.
• I know you can't, Harry; and I will try and get them for you in a few days.
The child said no more, but shrunk away with his little heart so full