« PředchozíPokračovat »
originate any independent scheme of philanthropy, she looked about for something in which she could help with her heart and hands, if not with her head or her purse. Like all those who earnestly seek, she was not long of finding. An acquaintance of many years lived in an old Manor House, about a mile from Mrs. Weston's house, and Mrs. Howard had lately commenced a scheme for the prevention of much misery and sin among the much-neglected class of workhouse orphans. When Mrs. Howard found that Mrs. Weston was ready to prove a most valuable co-operative, the acquaintance soon ripened into warm friendship. As gifts increase by exercise, Mrs. Weston was able not only to gain the affections and speak to the consciences of many poor, little, neglected ones ; but she did much to awaken interest in many amongst a large circle of acquaintances and correspondents, some of whom had given much thought and sympathy to poor, erring sisters, in disgrace and wretchedness; but who had seldom thought of pre
venting younger and yet innocent sisters from going down into the abyss of the fallen. Leslie North was particularly interested in all she heard from Mrs. Weston ; she felt it good for her to be taken out of her own particular class of interests, and she was thankful to have her heart drawn out in behalf of other
missions," with less thrilling incident and excitement than her own, but with as much devoted reality. Besides, the bearing of the subject on the “ Poor Laws” made her interest in it still warmer, as she remembered Aunt Hester's and Dr. Brown's many discussions thereupon. She resolved to write a series of letters to her uncle, hoping thus to strengthen Aunt Hester's hands. One morning she and Mrs. Weston made their appearance at the Manor House, as Mrs. Howard had expressed her wish to take Leslie to the little “ home" herself. The substance of Leslie's letters I now give my readers. .
The Manor House was a pleasant, homelike dwelling-place, with its ancient trees and rookeries, and its little river, stealing
on amidst the trees and around the lawns, as slowly and timidly as if half-a-dozen poets had not sung the praises of the “sullen Mole."
A mile or so beyond the demesne, the road passes near the ivied ruins of an old castle, while a little farther on, the pretty village green of Brockham meets the eye, surrounded by tidy cottages, picturesque with gables, casements, vine-covered porches, and well cared for gardens, while the village church and spire crown the vista.
Neither ruined castle, nor poetical river, nor picturesque village, were, however, the object of the drive that beautiful morning, as the three ladies wended their way from the Manor House. An irregular cottage-like building in the village of Brockham, with many gables, many casements, a little green or play-ground, with a swing erected at one end, and a garden in front, filled with shrubs and flowers not yet very well cared for, was the object which they had in view.
Over the inner door of this building, the motto “ Think and Thank” first met Leslie's
sight; then they entered the tidiest of little parlours, and from thence passed into a light, airy, plainly furnished school-room, round the table of which sat seven or eight neatly dressed, cheerful-faced, intelligent girls, between the ages of eleven and fourteen, each busy with a well-sewed “seam.”
Besides the accustomed maps, the walls were hung with many prettily illuminated texts of Scripture, and some pithy sentences and proverbs in plain print—“Pains make gains;” “Well begun is half done.”
From thence they went into a clean and comfortable kitchen and scullery, where several girls were employed in active culinary operations. Next came a washing-house, where others were not only washing, and wringing, and soaping, and scrubbing, but were learning to do so in the most efficient way from an experienced washerwoman ; opening from it was the laundry, where two bright, happy-looking little creatures were giving efficient help to an active superintendent, damping, ironing, and folding, with a zeal and energy which showed
that they knew what they were about, and did it “ with their might.” Then Leslie was taken up stairs into nicely kept bed-rooms, with clean beds and bedding, wide windows freely letting in the sunshine, and fresh, healthy air blowing about in all directions ; more texts of Scripture, and a few Bible pictures hung upon the walls, and there were a number of “perlipegs” or little money-boxes with the girls' names upon them, for the purpose of keeping their own particular earnings.
The characteristics of this dwelling and its inmates struck Leslie as intelligence in work and lessons, absence of all show and pretension, cheerfulness of look, pleasantness of manner, and an appearance of home, which reminded her of God's promise to “ set the solitary in families.” Seventeen girls—as many as the house will hold are there receiving a plain and solid education of the head, and a first-rate education of the hands, fitting them for the important posts of household servants, and for the still more