Can I hope to move my readers to any pitiful sympathy with Mrs.
Worboise, the whole fabric of whose desires was thus sliding into an
abyss? That she is not an interesting woman, I admit; but, at the
same time, I venture to express a doubt whether our use of the word
_uninteresting_ really expresses anything more than our own ignorance.
If we could look into the movements of any heart, I doubt very much
whether that heart would be any longer uninteresting to us. Come with
me, reader, while I endeavor, with some misgiving, I confess, to open
a peep into the heart of this mother, which I have tried hard, though
with scarcely satisfactory success, to understand.

Her chief faculty lay in negations. Her whole life was a kind of
negation–a negation of warmth, a negation of impulse, a negation
of beauty, a negation of health. When Thomas was a child, her chief
communication with him was in negatives. “_You must not_; _you are
not_; _do not_;” and so on. Her theory of the world was humanity
deprived of God. Because of something awful in the past, something
awful lay in the future. To escape from the consequences of a condition
which you could not help, you must believe certain things after a
certain fashion–hold, in fact, certain theories with regard to
the most difficult questions, on which, too, you were incapable of
thinking correctly. Him who held these theories you must regard as
a fellow-favorite of heaven; who held them not you would do well to
regard as a publican and a sinner, even if he should be the husband in
your bosom. All the present had value only of reference to the future.
All your strife must be to become something you are not at all now,
to feel what you do not feel, to judge against your nature, to regard
everything in you as opposed to your salvation, and God, who is far
away from you, and whose ear is not always ready to hear, as your only
deliverer from the consequences he has decreed; and this in virtue of
no immediate relation to you, but from regard to another whose innocent
suffering is to our guilt the only counterpoise weighty enough to
satisfy his justice. All her anxiety for her son turned upon his final
escape from punishment. She did not torment her soul, her nights were
not sleepless with the fear that her boy should be unlike Christ,
that he might do that which was mean, selfish, dishonest, cowardly,
vile, but with the fear that he was or might be doomed to an eternal

Now, in so far as this idea had laid hold of the boy, it had aroused
the instinct of self-preservation mingled with a repellent feeling
in regard to God. All that was poor and common and selfish in him
was stirred up on the side of religion; all that was noble (and of
that there was far more than my reader will yet fancy) was stirred up
against it. The latter, however, was put down by degrees, leaving the
whole region, when the far outlook of selfishness should be dimmed
by the near urgings of impulse, open to the inroads of the enemy,
enfeebled and ungarrisoned. Ah! if she could have told the boy, every
time his soul was lifted up within him by anything beautiful, or
great, or true, “That, my boy, is God–God telling you that you must
be beautiful, and great, and true, else you cannot be His child!” If,
every time he uttered his delight in flower or bird, she had, instead
of speaking of sin and shortcoming, spoken of love and aspiration
toward the Father of Light, the God of Beauty! If she had been able to
show him that what he admired in Byron’s heroes, even, was the truth,
courage, and honesty, hideously mingled, as it might be, with cruelty
and conceit and lies! But almost everything except the Epistles seemed
to her of the devil and not of God. She was even jealous of the Gospel
of God, lest it should lead him astray from the interpretation she put
upon it. She did not understand that nothing can convince of sin–but
the vision of holiness; that to draw near to the Father is to leave
self behind; that the Son of God appeared that by the sight of himself
he might convince the world of sin. But then hers was a life that had
never broken the shell, while through the shell the worm of suffering
had eaten, and was boring into her soul. Have pity and not contempt,
reader, who would not be like her. She did not believe in her own love,
even, as from God, and therefore she restrained it before the lad. So
he had no idea of how she loved him. If she had only thrown her arms
about him, and let her heart out toward him, which surely it is right
to do sometimes at least, how differently would he have listened to
what she had to say! His heart was being withered on the side next his
mother for lack of nourishment: there are many lives ruined because
they have not had tenderness enough. Kindness is not tenderness.
She could not represent God to the lad. If, instead of constantly
referring to the hell that lies in the future, she had reminded him of
the beginnings of that hell in his own bosom, appealing to himself
whether there was not a faintness there that indicated something wrong,
a dull pain that might grow to a burning agony, a consciousness of
wrong-doing, thinking, and feeling, a sense of a fearful pit and a
miry clay within his own being from which he would gladly escape, a
failing even from the greatness of such grotesque ideals as he loved in
poetry, a meanness, paltriness, and at best insignificance of motive
and action,–and then told him that out of this was God stretching
forth the hand to take and lift him, that he was waiting to exalt him
to a higher ideal of manhood than anything which it had entered into
his heart to conceive, that he would make him clean from the defilement
which he was afraid to confess to himself because it lowered him in his
own esteem,–then perhaps the words of his mother, convincing him that
God was not against him but for him, on the side of his best feelings
and against his worst, might have sunk into the heart of the weak
youth, and he would straightway have put forth what strength he had,
and so begun to be strong. For he who acts has strength, is strong, and
will be stronger. But she could not tell him this: she did not know it
herself. Her religion was something there, then; not here, now. She
would give Mr. Simon a five-pound note for his Scripture-reading among
the poor, and the moment after refuse the request of her needle-woman
from the same district who begged her to raise her wages from eighteen
pence to two shillings a day. Religion–the bond between man and
God–had nothing to do with the earnings of a sister, whose pale face
told of “penury and pine” a sadder story even than that written upon
the countenance of the invalid, for to labor in weakness, longing
for rest, is harder than to endure a good deal of pain upon a sofa.
Until we begin to learn that the only way to _serve_ God in any real
sense of the word is to serve our neighbor, we may have knocked at the
wicket-gate, but I doubt if we have got one foot across the threshold
of the kingdom.

Add to this condition of mind a certain uncomfortable effect produced
upon the mother by the son’s constantly reminding her of the father
whom she had quite given up trying to love, and I think my reader
will be a little nearer to the understanding of the relation, if such
it could well be called, between the two. The eyes of both were yet
unopened to the poverty of their own condition. The mother especially
said that she was “rich, and had need of nothing,” when she was
“wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” But she had
a hard nature to begin with, and her pain occupied her all the more
that she neither sought nor accepted sympathy. And although she was
none the less a time-server and a worldly-minded woman that she decried
worldliness, and popery, and gave herself to the saving of her soul,
yet the God who makes them loves even such people and knows all about
them; and it is well for them that he is their judge and not we.

Let us now turn to another woman–Mrs. Morgenstern. I will tell you
what she was like. She was a Jewess and like a Jewess. But there is as
much difference between Jewesses as there is between Englishwomen. Is
there any justice in fixing upon the lowest as _the type_? How does
the Scotchman like to have his nation represented: by the man outside
the tobacco-shop, or by the cantankerous logician and theologian so
well known to some of us? There is a Jewess that flaunts in gorgeous
raiment and unclean linen; and there is a Jewess noble as a queen, and
pure as a daisy–fit to belong to that nation of which Mary the mother
was born. Mrs. Morgenstern was of the latter class–tall, graceful,
even majestic in the fashion of her form and carriage. Every feature
was Jewish, and yet she might have been English, or Spanish, or German,
just as well. Her eyes were dark–black, I would say, if I had ever
seen black eyes–and proud, yet with a dove-like veil over their fire.
Sometimes there was even a trouble to be seen in them, as of a rainy
mist amid the glow of a southern sky. I never could be quite sure what
this trouble meant. She was rich, therefore she had no necessity; she
was not avaricious, and therefore she had no fear of dying in the
work-house. She had but one child, therefore she was neither wearied
with motherhood, nor a sufferer from suppressed maternity, moved by
which divine impulse so many women take to poodles instead of orphans.
Her child was healthy and active, and gave her no anxiety. That she
loved her husband, no one who saw those eastern eyes rest upon him for
a moment could doubt. What, then, could be the cause of that slight
restlessness, that gauzy change, that pensive shadow? I think that
there was more love in her yet than knew how to get out of her. She
would look round sometimes–it was a peculiar movement–just as if some
child had been pulling at her skirts. She had lost a child, but I do
not think that was the cause. And however this may be, I do believe
that nothing but the love of God will satisfy the power of love in any
woman’s bosom. But did not Rebecca–they loved their old Jewish names,
that family–did not Rebecca Morgenstern love God? Truly I think she
did–but not enough to satisfy herself. And I venture to say more: I
do not believe she could love him to the degree necessary for her own
peace till she recognized the humanity in him. But she was more under
the influences emanating from that story of the humanity of God than
she knew herself. At all events she was a most human and lovely lady,
full of grace and truth, like Mary before she was a Christian; and
it took a good while, namely all her son’s life and longer, to make
_her_ one. Rebecca Morgenstern never became a Christian. But she loved
children, whether they were Christians or not. And she loved the poor,
whether they were Christians or not; and, like Dorcas, made and caused
to be made, coats and garments for them. And, for my part, I know, if I
had the choice, whether I would appear before the Master in the train
of the _unbelieving_ Mrs. Morgenstern or that of the _believing_ Mrs.
Worboise. And as to self-righteousness, I think there is far less of
that among those who regard the works of righteousness as the means
of salvation, than among those by whom faith itself is degraded into
a work of merit–a condition by fulfilling which they become fit for
God’s mercy; for such is the trick which the old Adam and the Enemy
together are ready enough to play the most orthodox, in despite of the
purity of their creed.

Although Mrs. Boxall, senior, was still far from well, yet when the
morning of Mrs. Morgenstern’s gathering dawned, lovely even in the
midst of London, and the first sun-rays, with green tinges and rosy
odors hanging about their golden edges, stole into her room, reminding
her of the old paddock and the feeding cows at Bucks Horton, in
Buckingham, she resolved that Lucy should go to Mrs. Morgenstern’s. So
the good old lady set herself to feel better, in order that she might
be better, and by the time Lucy, who had slept in the same room with
her grandmother since her illness, awoke, she was prepared to persuade
her that she was quite well enough to let her have a holiday.

“But how am I to leave you, grannie, all alone?” objected Lucy.

“Oh! I dare say that queer little Mattie of yours will come in and keep
me company. Make haste and get your clothes on, and go and see.”

Now Lucy had had hopes of inducing Mattie to go with her; as I
indicated in a previous chapter; but she could not press the child
after the reason she gave for not going. And now she might as well
ask her to stay with her grandmother. So she went round the corner to
Mr. Kitely’s shop, glancing up at Mr. Spelt’s nest in the wall as she
passed, to see whether she was not there.

When she entered the wilderness of books she saw no one; but peeping
round one of the many screens, she spied Mattie sitting with her back
toward her and her head bent downward. Looking over her shoulder,
she saw that she had a large folding plate of the funeral of Lord
Nelson open before her, the black shapes of which, with their infernal
horror of plumes–the hateful flowers that the buried seeds of ancient
paganism still shoot up into the pleasant Christian fields–she was
studying with an unaccountable absorption of interest.

“What _have_ you got there Mattie?” asked Lucy.

“Well, I don’t ezackly know, miss,” answered the child, looking up,
very white-faced and serious.

“Put the book away and come and see grannie. She wants you to take care
of her to-day, while I go out.”

“Well, miss, I would with pleasure; but you see father is gone out, and
has left me to take care of the shop till he comes back.”

“But he won’t be gone a great while, will he?”

“No, miss. He knows I don’t like to be left too long with the books.
He’ll be back before St. Jacob’s strikes nine–that I know.”

“Well, then, I’ll go and get grannie made comfortable; and if you don’t
come to me by half-past nine, I’ll come after you again.”

“Do, miss, if you please; for if father ain’t come by that time–my
poor head–”

“You must put that ugly book away,” said Lucy, “and take a better one.”

“Well, miss, I know I oughtn’t to have taken this book, for there’s no
summer in it; and it talks like the wind at night.”

“Why did you take it, then?”

“Because Syne told me to take it. But that’s just why I oughtn’t to ha’
taken it.”

And she rose and put the book in one of the shelves over her head,
moving her stool when she had done so, and turning her face toward the
spot where the book now stood. Lucy watched her uneasily.

“What do you mean by saying that Syne told you?” she asked. “Who is

“Don’t you know Syne, miss? Syne is–you know ‘Lord Syne was a miserly
churl’–don’t you?”

Then, before Lucy could reply, she looked up in her face, with a smile
hovering about the one side of her mouth, and said:

“But it’s all nonsense, miss, when you’re standing there. There isn’t
no such person as Syne, when you’re there. I don’t believe there is any
such person. But,” she added with a sigh, “when you’re gone away–I
don’t know. But I think he’s up stairs in the nursery now,” she said,
putting her hand to her big forehead. “No, no; there’s no such person.”

And Mattie tried to laugh outright, but failed in the attempt, and the
tears rose in her eyes.

“You’ve got a headache, dear,” said Lucy.

“Well, no,” answered Mattie. “I cannot say that I have just a headache,
you know. But it does buzz a little. I hope Mr. Kitely won’t be long

“I don’t like leaving you, Mattie; but I must go to my grandmother,”
said Lucy, with reluctance.

“Never mind me, miss. I’m used to it. I used to be afraid of Lord Syne,
for he watched me, ready to pounce out upon me with all his men at his
back, and he laughed so loud to see me run. But I know better now. I
never run from him now. I always frown at him, and take my own time and
do as I like. I don’t want him to see that I’m afraid, you know. And I
do think I have taught him a lesson. Besides, if he’s very troublesome,
you know, miss, I can run to Mr. Spelt. But I never talk to him about
Syne, because when I do he always looks so mournful. Perhaps he thinks
it is wicked. He is so good himself, he has no idea how wicked a body
can be.”

Lucy thought it best to hurry away, that she might return the sooner;
for she could not bear the child to be left alone in such a mood. And
she was sure that the best thing for her would be to spend the day with
her cheery old grandmother. But as she was leaving the shop, Mr. Kitely
came in, his large, bold, sharp face fresh as a north wind without a
touch of east in it. Lucy preferred her request about Mattie, and he
granted it cordially.

“I’m afraid, Mr. Kitely,” said Lucy, “the darling is not well. She has
such strange fancies.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” returned the bookseller, with mingled concern
at the suggestion and refusal to entertain it. “She’s always been a
curious child. Her mother was like that, you see, and she takes after
her. Perhaps she does want a little more change. I don’t think she’s
been out of this street, now, all her life. But she’ll shake it off as
she gets older, I have no doubt.”

So saying, he turned into his shop, and Lucy went home. In half an
hour she went back for Mattie, and leaving the two together, of whom
the child, in all her words and ways, seemed the older, set out for
the West End, where Mrs. Morgenstern was anxiously hoping for her
appearance, seeing she depended much upon her assistance, in the
treat she was giving to certain poor people of her acquaintance. By
any person but Mattie, Mrs. Morgenstern would have been supposed to
be literally fulfilling the will of our Lord in asking only those who
could not return her invitation.

Mrs. Morgenstern looked splendid as she moved about among the
hot-house plants, arranging them in the hall, on the stairs, and in
the drawing-rooms. She judged, and judged rightly, that one ought to
be more anxious to show honor to poor neighbors by putting on her best
attire, than to ordinary guests of her own rank. Therefore, although
it was the morning, she had put on a dress of green silk, trimmed
with brown silk and rows of garnet buttons, which set off her dark
complexion and her rich black hair, plainly braided down her face,
and loosely gathered behind. She was half a head taller than Lucy,
who was by no means short. The two formed a beautiful contrast. Lucy
was dark-haired and dark-eyed as well as Mrs. Morgenstern, but had
a smaller face and features, regular to a rare degree. Her high,
close-fitting dress of black silk, with a plain linen collar and
cuffs, left her loveliness all to itself. Lucy was neither strikingly
beautiful nor remarkably intellectual: when one came to understand what
it was that attracted him so much, he found that it was the wonderful
harmony in her. As Wordsworth prophesied for his Lucy that “beauty born
of murmuring sound ‘should’ pass into her face,” so it seemed as if the
harmonies which flowed from her father’s fingers had molded her form
and face, her motions and thoughts, after their own fashion, even to
a harmony which soothed before one knew that he was receiving it, and
when he had discovered its source, made him ready to quote the words of
Sir Philip Sidney–

Just accord all music makes:
In thee just accord excelleth.
Where each part in such peace dwelleth,
Each of other beauty takes.

I have often wondered how it was that Lucy was capable of so much; how
it was, for instance, that, in the dispensing of Mrs. Morgenstern’s
bounty, she dared to make her way into places where no one but herself
thought it could be safe for her to go, but where not even a rude word
was ever directed against her or used with regard to her. If she had
been as religious as she afterward became, I should not have wondered
thus; for some who do not believe that God is anywhere in these dens
of what looks to them all misery, will dare everything to rescue their
fellow-creatures from impending fate. But Lucy had no theories to spur
or to support her. She never taught them any religion; she was only,
without knowing it, a religion to their eyes. I conclude, therefore,
that at this time it was just the harmony of which I have spoken that
led her, protected her, and, combined with a dim consciousness that she
must be doing right in following out the loving impulses of her nature,
supported her in the disagreeable circumstances into which she was
sometimes brought.

While they were thus busy with the flowers, Miriam joined them. She
had cast her neutral tints, and appeared in a frock of dark red,
with a band of gold in her dusky hair, somberly rich. She was a
strange-looking child, one of those whose coming beauty promises all
the more that it has as yet reached only the stage of interesting
ugliness. Splendid eyes, olive complexion, rounded cheeks, were
accompanied by a very unfinished nose, and a large mouth, with thick
though finely-modeled lips. She would be a glory some day. She flitted
into the room, and flew from flower to flower like one of those black
and red butterflies that Scotch children call witches. The sight of her
brought to Lucy’s mind by contrast the pale face and troubled brow of
Mattie, and she told Mrs. Morgenstern about her endeavor to persuade
the child to come, and how and why she had failed. Mrs. Morgenstern did
not laugh much at the story, but she very nearly did something else.

“Oh! do go and bring little Mattie,” said Miriam. “I will be very kind
to her. I will give her my doll’s house; for I shall be too big for it
next year.”

“But I left her taking care of my grandmother,” said Lucy, to the truth
of whose character it belonged to make no concealment of the simplicity
of the household conditions of herself and her grandmother. “And,” she
added, “if she were to come I must stay, and she could not come without

“But I’ll tell you what–couldn’t you bring the other–the little
Poppie she talks about? I should like to show Mattie that we’re not
quite so bad as she thinks us. Do you know this Poppie?” said Mrs.

Then Lucy told her what she knew about Poppie. She had been making
inquiries in the neighborhood, and though she had not traced the child
to head-quarters anywhere, everybody in the poor places in which she
had sought information knew something about her, though all they knew
put together did not come to much. She slept at the top of a stair
here, in the bottom of a cupboard there, coiling herself up in spaces
of incredible smallness; but no one could say where her home was, or,
indeed, if she had any home. Nor, if she wanted to find her, was it
of much consequence whether she knew her home or not, for that would
certainly be the last place where Poppie would be found.

“But,” she concluded, “if you would really like to have her, I will go
and try if I can find her. I could be back in an hour and half or so.”

“You shall have the brougham.”

“No, no,” interrupted Lucy. “To go in a brougham to look for Poppie
would be like putting salt on a bird’s tail. Besides, I should not like
the probable consequences of seating her in your carriage. But I should
like to see how that wild little savage would do in such a place as

“Oh, do go,” cried Miriam, clapping her hands. “It will be _such_ fun!”

Lucy ran for her bonnet, with great doubts of success, yet willing
to do her best to find the child. She did not know that Poppie had
followed her almost to Mrs. Morgenstern’s door that very morning.

Now what made Lucy sufficiently hopeful of finding Poppie to start in
pursuit of her, was the fact that she had of late seen the child so
often between Guild Court and a certain other court in the neighborhood
of Shoreditch. But Lucy did not know that it was because she was there
that Poppie was there. She had not for some time, as I have said, paid
her usual visits at Mrs. Morgenstern’s because of her grandmother’s
illness; and when she did go out she had gone only to the place I have
just mentioned, where the chief part of her work among the poor lay.
Poppie haunting her as she did, where Lucy was there she saw Poppie.
And, indeed, if Poppie had any ties to one place more than a hundred
others, that place happened to be Staines Court.

When Lucy came out of Mrs. Morgenstern’s, if she had only gone the
other way, she would have met Poppie coming round the next corner.
After Lucy had vanished, Poppie had found a penny in the gutter,
had bought a fresh roll with it and given the half of it to a child
younger than herself, whom she met at the back of the Marylebone police
station, and after contemplating the neighboring church-yard through
the railings while they ate their roll together, and comparing this
resting-place of the dead with the grand Baker Street Cemetery, she
had judged it time to scamper back to the neighborhood of Wyvil Place,
that she might have a chance of seeing the beautiful lady as she came
out again. As she turned the corner she saw her walking away toward
the station, and after following her till she entered it, scudded off
for the city, and arrived in the neighborhood of Guild Court before
the third train reached Farringdon Street, to which point only was the
railway then available.

Lucy walked straight to Staines Court, where she was glad of the
opportunity of doing some business of loving kindness at the same
time that she sought Poppie. The first house she entered was in a
dreadful condition of neglect. There were hardly more balusters in
the stairs than served to keep the filthy hand-rail in its place; and
doubtless, they would by and by follow the fate of the rest, and vanish
as fire-wood. One or two of the stairs, even, were torn to pieces for
the same purpose, and the cupboard doors of the room into which Lucy
entered had vanished, with half the skirting board and some of the
flooring, revealing the joists, and the ceiling, of the room below.
All this dilapidation did not matter much in summer weather, but how
would it be in the winter–except the police condemned the building
before then, and because the wretched people who lived in it could get
no better, decreed that so far they should have no shelter at all?
Well, when the winter came, they would just go on making larger and
larger holes to let in the wind, and fight the cold by burning their
protection against it.

In this room there was nobody. Something shining in a dingy sunbeam
that fell upon one of the holes in the floor, caught Lucy’s eye. She
stooped, and putting in her hand, drew out a bottle. At the same moment
she let it fall back into the hole, and started with a sense of theft.

“Don’t touch Mrs. Flanaghan’s gin bottle, lady. She’s a good ‘un to
swear, as you’d be frightened to hear her. She gives me the creepers
sometimes, and I’m used to her. She says it’s all she’s got in the
world, and she’s ready to die for the ‘ould bottle.”‘

It was Poppie’s pretty, dirty face and wild, black eyes that looked
round the door-post.

Lucy felt considerably relieved. She replaced the bottle carefully,
saying as she rose:

“I didn’t mean to steal it, Poppie. I only saw it shining, and wanted
to know what it was. Suppose I push it a little further in, that the
sun mayn’t be able to see it?”

Poppie thought this was fun, and showed her white teeth.

“But it was you I was looking for–not in that hole, you know,” added
Lucy, laughing.

“I think I could get into it, if I was to put my clothes off,” said

Lucy thought it would be a tight fit indeed, if her clothes made any

“Will you come with me?” she said. “I want you.”

“Yes, lady,” answered Poppie, looking, though, as if she would bolt in
a moment.

“Come, then,” said Lucy, approaching her where she stood still in the

But before she reached her, Poppie scudded, and was at the bottom of
the stair before Lucy recovered from the surprise of her sudden flight.
She saw at once that it would not do to make persistent advances, or
show the least desire to get a hold of her.

When she got to the last landing-place on the way down, there was
Poppie’s face waiting for her in the door below. Careful as one
who fears to startle a half-tamed creature with wings, Lucy again
approached her; but she vanished again, and she saw no more of her
till she was at the mouth of the court. There was Poppie once more, to
vanish yet again. In some unaccountable way she seemed to divine where
Lucy was going, and with endless evanishments still reappeared in front
of her, till she reached the railway station. And there was no Poppie.

For a moment Lucy was dreadfully disappointed. She had not yet had a
chance of trying her powers of persuasion upon the child; she had not
been within arm’s length of her. And she stood at the station door,
hot, tired, and disappointed–with all the holiday feeling gone out of

Poppie had left her, because she had no magic word by which to gain
access to the subterranean regions of the guarded railway. She thought
Lucy was going back to the great house in Wyvil Place; but whether
Poppie left her to perform the same journey on foot, I do not know. She
had scarcely lost sight of Lucy, however, before she caught sight of
Thomas Worboise, turning the corner of a street a hundred yards off.
She darted after him, and caught him by the tail of his coat. He turned
on her angrily, and shook her off.

“The lady,” gasped Poppie; but Thomas would not listen, and went on his
way. Poppie in her turn was disappointed, and stood “like one forbid.”
But at that very moment her eye fell on something in the kennel. She
was always finding things, though they were generally the veriest
trifles. The penny of that morning was something almost awful in its
importance. This time it was a bit of red glass. Now Poppie had quite
as much delight in colored glass as Lord Bacon had, who advised that
hedges in great gardens should be adorned on the top here and there
“with broad plates of round, colored glass, gilt, for the sun to play
upon,” only as she had less of the ways and means of procuring what she
valued, she valued what she could lay her hands upon so much the more.
She darted at the red shine, wiped it on her frock, sucked it clean in
her mouth, as clean as her bright ivories, and polished it up with her
hands, scudding all the time, in the hope that Lucy might be at the
station still. Poppie did not seek to analyze her feelings in doing
as she did; but what she wanted was to give Lucy her treasure-trove.
She never doubted that what was valuable to her would be valuable to a
beautiful lady. As little did she imagine how much value, as the gift
of a ragged little personage like herself, that which was all but
worthless would acquire in the eyes of a lady beautiful as Lucy was
beautiful, with the beauty of a tender human heart.

Lucy was sitting in the open waiting-room, so weary and disappointed
that little would have made her cry. She had let one train go on the
vague chance that the erratic little maiden might yet show herself, but
her last hope was almost gone when, to her great delight, once more
she spied the odd creature peeping round the side of the door. She had
presence of mind enough not to rise, lest she should startle the human
lapwing, and made her a sign instead to come to her. This being just
what Poppie wished at the moment, she obeyed. She darted up to Lucy,
put the piece of red glass into her hand, and would have been off again
like a low-flying swallow, had not Lucy caught her by the arm. Once
caught, Poppie never attempted to struggle. On this occasion she only
showed her teeth in a rather constrained smile, and stood still. Lucy,
however, did not take her hand from her arm, for she felt that the
little phenomenon would disappear at once if she did.

“Poppie,” she said, “I want you to come with me.”

Poppie only grinned again. So Lucy rose, still holding her by the arm,
and went to the ticket-window and got two second-class tickets. Poppie
went on grinning, and accompanied her down the stairs without one
obstructive motion.

When they were fairly seated in the carriage, and there was no longer
any danger of her prisoner attempting to escape, Lucy thought of the
something Poppie had given her, at which she had not even looked, so
anxious was she to secure her bird. When she saw it, she comprehended
it at once–the sign of love, the appeal of a half-savage sister to
one of her own kind, in whom she dimly recognized her far-off ideal;
even then not seeking love from the higher, only tendering the richest
human gift, simple love, unsought, unbought. Thus a fragment dropped by
some glazier as he went to mend the glass door leading into a garden,
and picked out of the gutter by a beggar girl, who had never yet
thought whether she had had a father or a mother, became in that same
girl’s hands a something which the Lord himself, however some of his
interpreters might be shocked at the statement, would have recognized
as partaking of the character of his own eucharist. And as such, though
without thinking of it after that fashion, it was received by the
beautiful lady. The tears came into her eyes. Poppie thought she half
offended or disappointed her, and looked very grave. Lucy saw she had
misunderstood her. There was no one in the carriage with them. She
stooped and kissed her. Then the same tears came, almost for the first
time since she had been an infant, into Poppie’s eyes. But just then
the train moved off, and although the child by no remark and no motion
evinced astonishment any more than fear, she watched everything with
the intensity of an animal which in new circumstances cannot afford
to lose one moment of circumspection, seeing a true knowledge of the
whole may be indispensable to the retention of its liberty; and before
they reached King’s Cross, her eyes were clear, and only a channel on
each cheek, ending in a little mud-bank, showed that just two tears
had flowed half way down her cheeks and dried there undisturbed in the
absorption of her interest.

Before they reached Baker Street station, Lucy had begun to be anxious
as to how she should get her charge through the streets. But no sooner
were they upon the stairs, than Lucy perceived by the way in which
Poppie walked, and the way in which she now and then looked up at her,
that there was no longer any likelihood that she would run away from
her. When they reached the top, she took her by the hand, and, without
showing the slightest inclination to bolt, Poppie trotted alongside
of her to Mrs. Morgenstern’s door. Having gained her purpose, Lucy’s
weariness had quite left her, and her eyes shone with triumph. They
made a strange couple, that graceful lady and that ragged, bizarre
child, who would, however, have shown herself lovely to any eyes keen
enough to see through the dirt which came and went according to laws as
unknown to Poppie as if it had been a London fog.

Lucy knocked at the door. It was opened by a huge porter in a rich
livery, and shoulder-knots like the cords of a coffin, as if he were
about to be lowered into his grave standing. He started at sight of
the little city Bedouin, but stood aside to let them enter, with all
the respect which, like the rest of his class, he ever condescended to
show to those who, like Miss Burton, came to instruct Miss Morgenstern,
and gave him, so much their superior, the trouble of opening the door
to them. The pride of the proudest nobleman or parvenu-millionaire is
entirely cast in the shade by the pride of his servants, justifying the
representation of Spenser, that although Orgoglio is the son of Terra
by Æolus, he cannot be raised to his full giantship without the aid of
his foster-father Ignaro. Lucy, however, cared as little for this form
of contempt as impervious little Poppie by her side, who trotted as
unconcerned over the black and white lozenges of the marble floor as
over the ordinary slabs of Guild Court, or the round stones of Staines
Court, and looked up the splendid stair-case which rose from the
middle of the round hall till it reached its side, and then branched
into two that ran circling and ascending the wall to the floor above,
its hand-rails and balusters shining with gold, and its steps covered
with a carpet two yards wide, in which the foot sank as if in grass,
with as much indifference as if it were the break-neck stair-case I
have already described as leading to the abode of Mistress Flanaghan.
But little bare feet were not destined to press such a luxurious
support; better things awaited them, namely, the grass itself; for the
resplendent creature whose head and legs were equally indebted to the
skill of the cunning workman, strode on before them, and through a
glass door at the back, to a lawn behind, such as few London dwellings
have to show. They might have thought that they had been transported by
enchantment to some country palace, so skillfully were the neighboring
houses hidden by the trees that encircled the garden. Mrs. Morgenstern,
with a little company of her friends, was standing in the middle of the
lawn, while many of her poorer _neighbors_ were wandering about the
place enjoying the flowers, and what to them was indeed fresh air, when
Lucy came out with the dirty, bare-legged child in her hand. All eyes
turned upon her, and a lovelier girl doing lovelier deed would have
taken more than that summer morning to discover.

But Lucy had the bit of red glass in her mind, and, without heeding
hostess or friends for the moment, led Poppie straight toward a lovely
rose-tree that stood in full blossom on one side of the lawn. How cool
that kindly humble grass must have felt to the hot feet of the darling!
But she had no time to think about it. For as she drew near the
rose-tree, her gaze became more and more fixed upon it; when at length
she stood before it, and beheld it in all its glory, she burst into a
very passion of weeping. The eyes of the daughter of man became rivers,
and her head a fountain of waters, filled and glorified by the presence
of a rose-tree. All that were near gathered about, till Lucy, Poppie,
and the rose-tree were the center of a group. Lucy made no attempt to
stay the flow of Poppie’s tears, for her own heart swelled and swelled
at the sight of the child’s feelings. Surely it was the presence of God
that so moved her: if ever bush burned with fire and was not consumed,
that rose-bush burned with the presence of God. Poppie had no
handkerchief; nor was there continuity of space enough in her garments
to hold a pocket: she generally carried things in her mouth when they
were small enough to go in. And she did not even put her hands to
her face to hide her emotion. She let her tears run down her stained
cheeks, and let sob follow sob unchecked, gazing ever through the storm
of her little world at the marvel in front of her. She had seen a rose
before, but had never seen a rose-tree full of roses. At last Lucy drew
her handkerchief from her pocket, and for the first time in her life
Poppie had tears wiped from her face by a loving hand.

There was one man, and only one, in the company–Mr. Sargent, a young
barrister. He was the first to speak. He drew near to Lucy and said, in
a half whisper:

“Where did you find the little creature, Miss Burton?”

“That would be hard to say,” answered Lucy, with a smile. “Isn’t she a

“You are a darling, anyhow,” said Mr. Sargent, but neither to Lucy nor
to any one but himself. He had been like one of the family for many
years, for his father and Mr. Morgenstern had been intimate, and he had
admired Lucy ever since she went first to the house; but he had never
seen her look so lovely as she looked that morning.

Certain harmonious circumstances are always necessary to bring out
the peculiar beauty both of persons and things–a truth recognized
by Emerson in his lovely poem called “Each and All,” but recognized
imperfectly, inasmuch as he seems to represent the beauty of each as
dependent on the all not merely for its full manifestation, but for its
actual being; a truth likewise recognized by Shakespeare, but by him
with absolute truth of vision–

The nightingale, if she should sing by day,
When every goose is cackling, would be thought
No better a musician than the wren.
_How many things by season seasoned are
To their right praise and true perfection!_

It was to the praise of Lucy’s beauty, that in this group she should
thus look more beautiful. The rose-tree and the splendor of Mrs.
Morgenstern did not eclipse her, because her beauty was of another
sort, which made a lovely harmony of difference with theirs. Or
perhaps, after all, it was the ragged child in her hand that gave a
tender glow to her presence unseen before.

Little Miriam pulled at her mamma’s skirt. She stooped to the child.

“Somebody has lost that one,” said Miriam, pointing shyly to Poppie.
“She looks like it.”

“Perhaps,” said her mother. But the answer did not satisfy Miriam.

“You told me you had lost a little girl once,” she said.

Mrs. Morgenstern had never yet uttered the word _death_ in her hearing.
As to the little dead daughter, she had to the sister said only that
she had lost her. Miriam had to interpret the phrase for herself.

“Yes, dear child,” answered her mother, not yet seeing what she was
driving at.

“Don’t you think, mamma,” pursued Miriam, with the tears rising in her
great black eyes, “that that’s her? I do. I am sure it is my little

Mrs. Morgenstern had the tenderest memories of her lost darling, and
turned away to hide her feelings. Meantime a little conversation had
arisen in the group. Lucy had let go her hold of Poppie, whose tears
had now ceased. Miriam drew near, shyly, and possessed herself of the
hand of the vagrant. Her mother turned and saw her, and motherhood
spoke aloud in her heart. How did it manifest itself? In drawing her
child away from the dirt that divided their hands? That might have
proved her a dam, but would have gone far to disprove her motherhood.

“What shall we do with her, Miriam?” she said.

“Ask nurse to wash her in the bath, and put one of my frocks on her.”

Poppie snatched her hand from Miriam’s, and began to look about her
with wild-eyed search after a hole to run into. Mrs. Morgenstern saw
that she was frightened, and turned away to Lucy, who was on the other
side of the rose-tree, talking to Mr. Sargent.

“Couldn’t we do something to make the child tidy, Lucy?” she said.

Lucy gave her shoulders a little shrug, as much as to say she feared it
would not be of much use. She was wrong there, for if the child should
never be clean again in her life, no one could tell how the growth of
moral feeling might be aided in her by her once knowing what it was
to have a clean skin and clean garments. It might serve hereafter, in
her consciousness, as a type of something better still than personal
cleanliness, might work in aid of her consciousness as a vague
reminder of ideal parity–not altogether pleasant to her ignorant
fancy, and yet to be–faintly and fearingly–desired. But although Lucy
did not see much use in washing her, she could not help wondering what
she would look like if she were clean. And she proceeded to carry out
her friend’s wishes.

Poppie was getting bored already with the unrealized world of grandeur
around her. The magic of the roses was all gone, and she was only
looking out for a chance of scudding. Yet when Lucy spoke to her she
willingly yielded her hand, perhaps in the hope that she was, like
Peter’s angel, about to open the prison-doors, and lead her out of her

Lucy gave an amusing account of how Poppie looked askance, with a
mingling of terror and repugnance, at the great bath, half full of
water, into which she was about to be plunged. But the door was shut,
and there was not even a chimney for her to run up, and she submitted.
She looked even pleased when she was at length in the midst of the
water. But Lucy found that she had undertaken a far more difficult
task than she had expected–especially when she came to her hair. It
was nearly two hours, notwithstanding repeated messages from Mrs.
Morgenstern and tappings at the door of the bath-room by Miriam, before
she was able to reproduce the little savage on whom she had been
bestowing this baptism of love.

When she came down at last, the company, consisting of some of Mrs.
Morgenstern’s more intimate friends, and a goodly number of _clients_
if not exactly dependents, was seated at luncheon in the large
dining-room. Poppie attracted all eyes once more. She was dressed
in a last year’s summer frock of Miriam’s, and her hair was reduced
to order; but she had begun to cry so piteously when Lucy began to
put stockings upon her, that she gave it up at once, and her legs
were still bare. I presume she saw the last remnants of her freedom
vanishing in those gyves and fetters. But nice and clean as she looked,
she certainly had lost something by her decent garments. Poppie must
have been made for rags and rags for Poppie–they went so admirably
together. And there is nothing wicked in rags or in poverty. It is
possible to go in rags and keep the Ten Commandments, and it is
possible to ride in purple and fine linen and break every one of them.
Nothing, however, could spoil the wildness of those honestly furtive

Seated beside Lucy at the table, she did nothing but first stare,
then dart her eyes from one to another of the company with the scared
expression of a creature caught in a trap, and then stare again. She
was evidently anything but comfortable. When Lucy spoke to her she did
not reply, but gazed appealingly, and on the point of crying, into her
eyes, as if to say, “What _have_ I done to be punished in this dreadful
manner?” Lucy tried hard to make her eat, but she sat and stared and
would touch nothing. Her plate, with the wing of a chicken on it, stood
before her unregarded. But all at once she darted out her hand like
the paw of a wild beast, caught something, slipped from her chair,
and disappeared under the table. Peeping down after her, Lucy saw her
seated on the floor, devouring the roll which had been put by the side
of her plate. Judging it best not to disturb her, she took no more
notice of her for some time, during which Poppie, having discovered a
long row of resplendent buttons down the front of her dress, twisted
them all off with a purpose manifested as soon as the luncheon was
over. When the company rose from their seats, she crawled out from
under the table and ran to Miriam, holding out both her hands. Miriam
held out her hands to meet Poppie’s, and received them full of the
buttons off her own old frock.

“Oh! you naughty Poppie,” said Lucy, who had watched her. “Why did you
cut off the buttons? Don’t you like them?”

“Oh! golly! don’t I just? And so does _she_. Tuck me up if she don’t!”

Poppie had no idea that she had done anything improper. It was not as
buttons, but _per se_, as pretty things, that she admired the knobs,
and therefore she gave them to Miriam. Having said thus, she caught at
another _tommy_, as she would have called it, dived under the table
again, and devoured it at her ease, keeping, however, a sharp eye upon
her opportunity. Finding one when Lucy, who had remained in the room to
look after her, was paying more attention to the party in the garden,
she crawled out at the door, left open during the process of _taking
away_, and with her hand on the ponderous lock of the street door,
found herself seized from behind by the porter. She had been too long
a pupil of the London streets not to know the real position of the
liveried in the social scale, and for them she had as little respect as
any of her tribe. She therefore assailed him with such a torrent of bad
language, scarcely understanding a word that she used, that he declared
it made his “‘air stand on hend,” although he was tolerably familiar
with such at the Spotted Dog round the corner. Finding, however,
that this discharge of cuttle-fish ink had no effect upon the enemy,
she tried another mode–and, with a yell of pain, the man fell back,
shaking his hand, which bore the marks of four sharp incisors. In one
moment Poppie was free, and scudding. Thus ended her introduction to
civilized life.

Poppie did not find it nice. She preferred all London to the biggest
house and garden in it. True, there was that marvelous rose-tree. But
free-born creatures cannot live upon the contemplation of roses. After
all, the thing she had been brought up to–the streets, the kennels
with their occasional crusts, pennies, and bits of glass, the holes
to creep into, and the endless room for scudding–was better. And her
unsuitable dress, which did attract the eyes of the passers–being such
as was seldom seen in connection with bare hair and legs–would soon
accommodate itself to circumstances, taking the form of rags before a
week was over, to which change of condition no care of Poppie’s would
interpose an obstacle. For, like the birds of the air and the lilies
of the field, she had no care. She did not know what it meant. And
possibly the great One who made her may have different ideas about
respectability from those of dining aldermen and members of Parliament
from certain boroughs that might be named.

At the porter’s cry Lucy started, and found to her dismay that her
charge was gone. She could not, however, help a certain somewhat
malicious pleasure at the man’s discomfiture and the baby-like way in
which he lamented over his bitten finger. He forgot himself so far as
to call her “the little devil”–which was quite in accordance with his
respectable way of thinking. Both Mrs. Morgenstern and Lucy, after
the first disappointment and vexation were over, laughed heartily at
the affair, and even Miriam was worked up to a smile at last. But she
continued very mournful, notwithstanding, over the loss of her sister,
as she would call her.

Mr. Sargent did his best to enliven the party. He was a man of good
feeling, and of more than ordinary love for the right. This, however,
from a dread of what he would have called _sentimentality_, he
persisted in regarding as a mere peculiarity, possibly a weakness.
If he made up his mind to help any one who was wronged, for which
it must be confessed he had more time than he would have cared to
acknowledge, he would say that he had “taken an _interest_ in such or
such a case;” or that the case involved “points of _interest_,” which
he was “willing to see settled.” He never said that he wanted to see
right done: that would have been enthusiastic, and unworthy of the
cold dignity of a lawyer. So he was one of those false men, alas too
few! who always represent themselves as inferior to what they are.
Many and various were the jokes he made upon Poppie and Jeames, ever,
it must be confessed, with an eye to the approbation of Miss Burton.
He declared, for instance, that the Armageddon of class-legislature
would be fought between those of whom the porter and Poppie were the
representatives, and rejoiced that, as in the case of the small quarrel
between Fitz James and Roderick Dhu, Poppie had drawn the first blood,
and gained thereby a good omen. And Lucy was pleased with him, it must
be confessed. She never thought of comparing him with Thomas, which was
well for Thomas. But she did think he was a very clever, gentlemanly
fellow, and knew how to make himself agreeable.

He offered to see her home, which she declined, not even permitting him
to walk with her to the railway.