« PreviousContinue »
must have done so herself for some reason, have changed her dress, and gone out with the money—but why? And then? “She has been robbed and made away with!” exclaimed poor Uncle Archie, forgetful of Aileen's presence in his griet and horror, and of the effect such shocking words must have on her. And then he sat down in Rose's easy chair, and cried.
"A GENTLEMAN WAS STANDING BY HER BEDSIDE THIS
TIME (P. 327).
But you and I, dear reader, know that our Rose had been neither robbed nor made away with. We know that she had, as Uncle Archie believed, taken the purse, changed her dress, and gone forth into the wide world alone ; but we also know that the reason of her absence, of her not returning to the happy home of her childhood, was not that she had been robbed and made away with, but that she had left it, and, as she resolved, for ever, of her own free will.
And now we will leave that unhappy, desolate home of hers for a little while, and follow the steps of the poor misguided child, and see whither they lead her, and what it is that she is doing.
When she walked through that well-known door out into the street, she had no idea what she meant to do, except to go away and hide herself and her misery from everybody, and most of all from those to whom she had been everything, and was now, as she foolishly thought, nothing, and worse than nothing. She was not Miss Burke : she was not Uncle Archie's niece. He had cast her off, he had taken Aileen instead of her, and she would never, never see one of them again. She did not blame Uncle Archie ; she did not think him unkind; she considered that he could not help himself. She was not his niece--Aileen was. That was the whole of the matter, and in that lay her anguish. She might have borne it had there been no one to take her place, had the sorrow only been that she was not her father's daughter and her uncle's niece. Perhaps, then, the possibility of her remaining the same to Mr. Burke, and being as deeply loved by him as ever, might have crossed her mind, but as it was, she never recognised it for a moment as a possibility. Aileen was there. Aileen was his niece, she was not ; and so it seemed to her that she had no place in the world.
She walked rapidly away, without an idea of
where she would go. She had a thick veil on, before. She opened the sacred book at random, which she kept down. She was tall for her age, and her eye fell on the following words :and in her plain dark dress no one looked at her, or "Blessed are the m.eek, for they shall inherit the thought about her, or considered it strange that she earth.” should be out there walking through Dublin by “Inherit the earth," thought Rose sorrowfully. herself. She knew that she had never done such a “I have lost my heritage, all of the earth that I care thing before in all her happy, guarded, cared-for for—my home, my uncle, the very thing I was, all, life, but no one else knew it or noticed her.
all gone. Inherit the earth. Ah, yes ! it is happy Suddenly she thought that she would go to London. for those who inherit the earth.” In London she could find something to do, she Then she read the verse again, but instead of could earn her own bread-every one could do that going on, as at first, to the last half of the text, her in London, because it was so large a place ; and it attention was caught by the four words with which was so large a place, also, that no one need be it begins : found there--she was sure that she could hide there Blessed are the meek.” quite securely-no one need be found in London A new flood of thoughts rushed into her heart as unless they wished it.
she read them-thoughts and feelings that had So, full of this intention, she walked straight away never been hers before during her whole life. The to the North Wall, where she had sometimes meek? Who were the meek? the blessed meek accompanied Aileen when she embarked for who were to inherit the earth? Holyhead, and from which she knew vessels sailed Had she ever been meek? Was meekness known direct for London also. She determined to go in a to her at all? Was it- not what she expected from London steamer if she could, as then she need not others, but what she had never given to them . change or have any trouble till she actually landed herself? She had been gay and triumphant, loving in London ; and as, fortunately for her wishes, a and beloved, kind and generous, perhaps, when boat sailed within half an hour of her making it came in her pleasant way to be so; but meck ? inquiries at the office, she had not the least difficulty
had she ever, ever been meek? Had she not taken in carrying out her plan. In her quiet dress she love, and deference, and petting, and cherishing all excited no attention, especially as all those around for granted—all as her right? And now, now in were in a bustle, and occupied with their own affairs, this terrible present, this changed life that had and in a short time from the moment in which come on her, when she had ceased to “inherit” she had seen Uncle Archie kiss Aileen and call her her “earth,” she suddenly saw that beautiful past his niece—and yet, how long a time it seemed to her! in a new light-saw her own character, her own -she found herself seated on the deck of a steamer, self in a new light also, and felt with a terrible and rushing across the Bay of Dublin, out, out repentance that she had not been meek. towards the open sea. No one spoke to her or And she felt it when it was too late, when she thought about her. In fact, there are very few could no longer show meekness to those to whom passengers go in the boats from Dublin to London : she owed so much. they are chiefly for cattle and luggage ; and as Poor little Rose! I wonder whether any maiden for the sailors on board, they were engaged with of her years was ever quite so miserable before ? their own affairs, and had no time for other Alone in the small cabin of a strange steamer, which things.
was carrying her rapidly away from every thing and When it began to get dark she went down to her person that she loved—having lost all that made berth, and there, in spite of her misery, she fell life dear to her, and believing that she had lost it asleep ; for children cannot live without sleep, and for ever, and now suddenly, for the first time, perpoor Rose was, after all, only a child. By-and-by, ceiving her faults, feeling, with a repentance that the sea grew rough, the steainer tossed about, and was as strong as it was new, that she had not de. Rose became ill, and for many hours she was so ill served her happiness--for the first time experiencing that she forgot her unhappiness in her bodily remorse, and with no one to turn to for comfortsufferings.
no Uncle Archie, no Aileen, no Miss Smyly, no In the Thames all was calm and quiet again, and Bridget even-no Then, indeed, Cain's the voyage, so wretched and so long, was nearly words came in her ears, those terrible words, “ My over, so Rose got out of her berth, and dressed her. punishment is greater than I can bear.” self, and managed to eat and drink a little. She Rose never forgot those moments of her life--not opened her bag to perform her toilet, and there she when she is quite an old woman will she forget saw her ttle New Testament, and remembered that them. She really thought her heart was going to she had not read her few verses as usual the night break physically from the weight of the sorrow on it,
and that she was then and there to die; and, perhaps it was only a form of fatigue she was now miserable as she was, she would almost have been experiencing. She had heard Miss Smyly speak glad to die, but for the dreadful thought of her un- of being too tired to sleep, and of how, when she fitness that followed on her new repentance. A panic was too tired to sleep, she would be restless, and of terror seized her ; she fell down on her knees, toss about in her bed for half the night ; and she and, with torrents of tears, prayed to God for thought that was perhaps her case now, for though pardon and peace--prayed, poor child, with her she felt so extremely ill, she was restless and exwhole heart, suddenly awakened to its sinfulness cited, and was sure that sleeping or resting would --prayed as she had never prayed in her whole life be quite impossible to her. before-and was comforted with a comfort that She felt her head getting hot, and it ached vio. amazed herself. Ah, Rose! those moments you lently, and began to throb, and then it was giddy, thought the most miserable were in reality the most and for a second or two she could not see. She was blessed of your life, for they were the first in which not the least frightened now, or even surprised ; it you learned the power of prayer.
seemed quite natural that she could not see, only it She was tolerably composed before the steamer was a pity she was in such a crowd. She put out entered the docks, and she was able to take her her hands to feel her way, and then she saw again, little bag in her hand and go on shore without quite distinctly, people all walking about, and gay attracting attention. Had she been in a steamer shop windows. Where could she be? This was with many passengers and other gentlefolk besides not Grafton Street. Was she not on board a herself, she could hardly have passed out without steamer? Yes, for she felt it rocking about, unbeing spoken to. She knew that the thing to do now steady beneath her feet, and waving round her. was to take a cab and drive to some part of London Where could she be going? Why was she on board that she was acquainted with, but what to do when a steamer instead of at home? And why was there she got there she did not know. She dared not go no sea, only people, and shops, and houses ? Oh ! to the pleasant hotel where she had stayed with her what had happened? Were they all dead ? uncle during the visits to London they had some- why was there no home? times paid, because they knew her there, and As she thought this she gave a loud scream, or would be so surprised at her being alone. She she thought she did, only she heard no noise. Was thought she would drive to some shop she knew, or she asleep? and was this what she had been told of, rather, that she would tell the cabman to take her a nightmare, when you try to wake yourself by to this shop, as she must give him some direction, speaking, but are dumb, and choke with the sounds and that she would get out at the door, though she
you cannot utter? need not enter it, and perhaps by that time she Suddenly she felt herself falling, though why would have thought where she had better go and she fell she did not know. “Uncle Archie !” she what she had better do.
knew she was saying, but in such a strange voice To a large West End shop, accordingly, she that she did not recognise it as her own, and after went, and there she got out of the cab, paid her that she was aware of nothing more-only a shock, fare, and was left standing on the pavement alone, a stunned feeling, and then unconsciousness. not one bit nearer a knowledge of what she was When Rose recovered her senses she did not in going to do than she had been when she had first the least know where she was, or, indeed, for some seated herself in the cab. At any rate, she could
time who she was. She was in bed, a small white not stand there on the pavement by herself ; so bed in a little cell, or place divided off by itself, she walked slowly along Regent Street, feeling ill, but yet part of a large long room, in which were tired, and frightened.
numbers of little cells or places just like hers, with small white beds in them, and sick people in the
beds. But these Rose could not see because of the CHAPTER XII.--A HAPPY ENDING.
screens, that made every one of these divisions like YRESENTLY she became aware that she a little room by itself. She opened her eyes and
was feeling more ill than either tired or looked languidly about her. A woman in a dark frightened. Indeed, the sensation of fear dress, with white apron and cap, and a kind face,
began to diminish as that of sickness in. whose eyes gazed down into hers with a cheerful, creased ; she was not sure either that she was friendly glance of welcome, was standing by her so very tired now. Her pulse beat fast, and side. her head felt excited. She had had enough The look was so pleasant that Rose smiled as fatigue her in the long voyage and violent suffering their eyes met, and the woman smiled also. Then on board, first physical, and afterwards mental, and she put something, in a cup with a spout to it, to her
lips, from which she swallowed a warm nice “Where are you, then?” asked the nurse, with drink, and then closing her eyes, which felt strangely an interest she could not suppress. tired and weak, she slept soundly, a soothing re- Then Rose only turned blank, confused, puzzled membrance of that kind face and smile attending eyes towards her, and very soon afterwards fell her into dreamland.
asleep again. Two or three wakings of this kind-always the But on her next waking she remembered diskind smiling face-always something to take held tinctly all the nurse had said to her, and that she to her lips—and more power of seeing, hearing, was in London. How she came to be in London and understanding each time.
she could not think. A gentleman was standing At last she found she could speak, and said in a by her bedside this time, who, when she opened very low tone, surprised at the power, and surprised her eyes, looked down into them as the nurse had at the sound of her own voice, “Where am I? ” done, smiled at her, felt her pulse, and said in a
The woman smiled just the same as ever, only bright way, “Well, you are doing nicely, are you her whole face seemed to smile now, instead of her
not ?" mouth alone, and it was with a pleased bright You are not Doctor Little,” Rose said wonexpression.
deringly. “You are in bed, dear, because you have been ill,” “No; I am Doctor Smith. Where does Doctor she answered cheerfully.
Little live now? I don't know of one of that name “And who are you, please ?”
out of Dublin." "I am your nurse."
“Yes, Dublin, of course!” cried Rose, delighted. “My nurse! Am I little î Am I not almost “Dublin ; but she said it was London. Dublin, grown up ?”
of course! Oh, please, where are Uncle Archie and “ You are not little ; you are almost grown up. I Aileen? Oh! why don't they come to me? Is am only your nurse because you have been ill-a Bridget there? Oh! Uncle Archie, why don't you sick nurse, you know."
come ?” and she began to cry. “I like you,” said Rose wearily, and again fell “All right," said the doctor to the nurse, and they asleep.
looked at each other with congratulating eyes. But the next time she woke she began to think “You are not afraid of her exciting herself, and remember—to think a little, and to remember sir ? a very little also. She could not tell who she was Not a bit of it ; it will do her no harm at all, or where she was, but she felt as if she should only good. She will recollect everything now.” understand and remember if any one would tell her Rose felt relieved by the tears she had shed. those two important facts ; so after she had been “ Please do tell me where I am. She said it was fed, and had looked well about her, and had puzzled London ; but how could it be? It is Dublin, is herself a good deal, she said, “Is this home ?” not it?"
“It is home just now, when you are ill, you “No," said the doctor ; “it is London. But if know," was the reply, spoken in a soothing way. you will tell me where Uncle Archie is, I will send
“Yes, but-but-who am I? and who are you? for him.” Please, please tell me ; it worries me so.”
“How did I come here?” asked Rose. “Yes, dear ; but it is only because you are weak “You were taken ill out of doors, and brought that you don't know. I will tell you what has hap- | here." pened to you. You have had a bad fever-scarlet " It was Dora O'Grady had scarlet fever, and I fever-and you have been delirious, and not known caught it from her, I dare say. I took her on my any one; and now you are quite well, only you are knee after the dancing lesson, and her little chest so very weak that you can't remember.”
was red, and so we had to go home--all of us." * Scarlet fever ? ” questioned Rose thoughtfully. And were you taken ill on your way home?" “I have heard of that before. Did any one pull asked the doctor. down my dress? and was my chest all red?”
Oh, no ; I went home, and .” here Rose “Yes, exactly,” replied the nurse, smiling. “You paused, her face flushed, and then became suddenly were red all over, and your skin will peel off by-pale. She remembered everything in one moment. and-by."
She saw herself standing on the landing-place, “Where am I?”
looking in through the drawing-room door while “Why, you are in London, you know. You live Uncle Archie drew Aileen to him and kissed her, in London, don't you?”
are my niece." She heard the "In London? How can I be in London? I emphasis on the you which had driven her from never was there, except for little short times.” the house. She knew again who she was and
who she was not ; the old feelings, almost of rage, to try to earn her own livelihood, and that it in the extremity of her anguish, were rushing would be wrong and mean to let them write back into her heart, when suddenly she remem- to Uncle Archie. It would be the same thing bered more still the remorse she had felt in the as asking him to support her out of charity cabin of the steamer, and the prayer she had when perhaps he might not wish to do so. I think uttered there, flashed across her brain, the soothing her being still so weak from her illness was partly calm that followed the prayer filled her poor little the cause of Rose feeling in this way, and that as heart ; she shut her eyes, and again prayed silently, she got stronger she would be able to judge better, but very fervently, for strength and help, while her and to remember all that Uncle Archie had done lips softly formed themselves into the words, for Aileen, and that he would be at least as anxious “Blessed are the meek.”
to do as much for her. But with her mind After that she cried very quietly for some time. weakened as much as her body by illness, she only
The doctor and the nurse watched her with felt that it would be wicked of her to seem to ask kindly interest. “Now," said he at last, "you will him for anything, and that she could not bear to tell us who you are, and all about yourself, so that return home in Aileen's place, while Aileen occupied we may send for your friends—for Uncle Archie, hers. and Aileen, and Bridget."
I can hardly tell you how puzzled they were in “ I am afraid I cannot tell you anything," was the hospital as to how they were to find out the her only reply; and for the present her two new friends of this poor little girl, who would not tell friends left her alone, thinking she had had quite them a word about herself. She was so weak, and excitement enough for one day.
the subject agitated her so much, that they did I must explain to you where Rose was, and what not dare to press it; indeed they began to fancy that had happened to her after she fell down in Regent some hallucinations might have been left by the Street, as there is no reason why you should not fever, and that there was no real reason why she know, though the nurse was afraid to tell her, lest was so mysterious, and it would not only be very the thought of it should frighten her while she was mischievous to her health to press her to speak, so weak. The fact is, she had caught the same but that as she recovered, the illusion, whatever it fever that little Dora O'Grady sickened with in her was, would die away of itself, and she would by-andarms, and she had fallen down in a sort of by tell them who she was, and where she lived. fainting fit, which was the beginning of the illness, However, to hasten matters without injuring her, and she had been picked up by a policeman and they put the following advertisement into two newstaken to a hospital, where she was well nursed papers published in Dublin :through a long and dangerous fever, from which she was beginning to recover when she first opened her
• If Uncle Archie, Aileen, or Bridget want to hear any.
thing of a little girl about thirteen, initials R. B.- Rose emeyes, and saw the kind face of the nurse looking down
broidered on handkerchiefs--they must apply to Dr. Smith, at her. Hospitals, you know, are large buildings
Hospital, Street, London," built for poor people who cannot afford to pay for nursing and medicines when they are ill. There Two days after this advertisement had been sent are the best doctors there, and the best nurses ; by post from London to Dublin a cab dashed up and medicine and food and everything are given for to Hospital, and a gentleman in travelling cosnothing. And if any persons are taken ill in the tume, dusty, and in a violent hurry, sprang from streets of London who are poor or homeless, they it and inquired for Dr. Smith. Dr. Smith was are taken at once to a hospital, where they are well engaged for the moment, and the stranger was attended to in every way. And so our Rose was shown into the waiting.room, where he paced up carried there in her extremity, and her nurse and and down more like a wild beast in a cage than one doctor were greatly puzzled about her, and most gentleman calling on another. anxious to find out who she was, and to tell her After a delay of about ten minutes, which friends that she was there, for they saw at once seemed to the man who was waiting like as many that she was a gentleman's daughter, and could not hours, Dr. Smith made his appearance with a understand how it happened that she was walking polite inquiry as to what "he could do for him." in Regent Street by herself, and had fallen down ill The stranger almost thrust into his face a crum. there, with nobody to take care of her.
pled newspaper, placing his finger on one parBut after Rose had recollected who she was, and ticular spot as he thrust it, and called out in a all her sad history, she did not communicate it voice scarcely audible from emotion, “The ad. to either the nurse or the doctor, for she felt as vertisement !" if she ought not to do so. She thought she ought “Ah, yes, I see-the newspaper,” replied Dr.