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in that loaf sent help to Mary, I am glad they may manage to exist upon buns. of it." Mr. Alderman Harding had also heard of instances in which persons of superior rank and attainments and character, such, for instance-and only for instance-as the widows and orphans of professional men, had had to drink to the very dregs the cup of bitter poverty, or almost bitterer dependence on common charity; and he had joined in the common reproach-too frequently merited perhaps of recklessness or improvidence, not entirely confined to professional men, though. But all that he had heard and seen had not prepared him for the fact, now brought home to his understanding, that, within a mile of his residence and if it had been within a stone's throw he would perhaps have been none the wiser-had struggled on day by day for two years, till heart and hope were lost, and life itself did not seem worth struggling for any longer, two children whose tender years had beamed with the promise of future prosperity, and honorable rank in society, to be only suddenly and apparently irremediably blasted. He had not been prepared to meet, in his own daily walk and experience, with a case in which, without blame to the sufferer, and in spite of heroic endurance and stout-heartedness, a tender and well-nur
"Help would have reached your sister without your doing wrong, boy," replied the magistrate, calmly. "Sometimes God pleases that the wrong-doing of one shall seem to bring about good to others; but that does not make sin less sinful. And it was not your dishonesty that raised up friends for your sister, but another person's honesty. We won't talk about that now, however. I wish to know something of your history, and your sister's; and mind you speak the truth."
"I am not a liar," said the boy-not sullenly, however; "indeed I am not, sir."
"Well, perhaps not; but let me hear what account you can give of yourself; your name is Bevan, you say?"
We shall not follow the magistrate through his unofficial examination, which terminated in an arrangement with the jailer to keep the boy apart from evil companions. "I wish to serve you," he added, turning to Bevan; "and I am not sure that I can do anything better for you than this. I will see you again. By the way, you will find a Bible in your cell; I advise you to spend your unoccupied time in reading it."
"And my sister, sir?" said the boy- tured girl had lain down to die for want of "shall I see her?" the bread that perisheth; or with another "Another day," returned the alderman, in which, as with that girl's brother, conevasively. tinued privation had undermined, and temptation broken down, the barriers which had separated the precious from the vile, and added another atom to the mass of crime not resulting from ignorance,cases both, in which an outstretched hand and a loving heart, gently probing the disease, and suggesting and applying the remedy, would have called down the blessings of those who were ready to perish, and supplied motive for a hopeful continuance in well-doing. Such were some of Mr. Harding's thoughts, and he learned a practical lesson therefrom.
Before the term of Willy's imprisonment had expired, his sister, thanks to good nursing, had recovered her strength; and then came consultations between the alderman, his housekeeper, and James Underwood, as to what next should be done. To have restored her to life, merely to pass through the same hopeless struggles which had brought her near death, would have been poor charity. So
Mr. Alderman Harding left the prison full of thought. There was food for thought in the story he had just heard, and which exactly tallied with what he had been told by the second-hand bookseller, only that it went more into detail. Of course, it was not altogether new information to him that there was poverty in the world, and even in Summerville; nor was it a new idea to him that destitution is the next step in advance of poverty, and starvation just a step beyond destitution. He was not entirely ignorant that there are temptations connected with these states which do not so strongly assail any other. He had heard of the condition of needlewomen in general, and shirtmakers in particular, as not being exceedingly enviable in the way of emolument; and he did not suppose that they had hot roastmeat every day for dinner; and he had not fallen into the error of supposing, that when the poor cannot get bread eat,
Mr. Harding declared. In the course of these consultations it came out, on the testimony of the young seamstress, corroborated by the researches of the alderman's housekeeper, that Mary Bevan had sometimes been able to earn eightpence a day, sometimes ninepence, and sometimes only sixpence; something depending on the kind and quality of work she could obtain, and something also on the number of hours which made up her workingday.
labor!" exclaimed Mr. Harding; "and days and weeks without work at all! and with that to keep soul and body together -to buy firing and food, to pay rent, not for herself only, but also for the boy! I never heard of such a thing! I could not have thought it! Are you sure you don't make a mistake, Mrs. Jackson?"
Yes, Mrs. Jackson was sure. And she knew, also, that the case was not by any means an extraordinary one.
"Why, Mrs. Jackson, I wonder the Eightpence a day for fourteen hours' poor girl has n't been driven to ruin her
self, body and soul. She must have good principles, I am sure.'
"A good many do ruin themselves, I am afraid, sir," said Mrs. Jackson, "that haven't such strong temptations; and some, I dare say, are in a manner driven to it by want. Yes, sir, I think the poor girl has indeed very good principles."
"I should think so; it must be so. Eightpence a day! only think, Mrs. Jackson! and for two of them! There's something wrong somewhere;" and, so saying, Mr. Alderman Harding took up his hat and stick, and walked toward the high-street of Summerville.
It was Saturday evening; the shops, especially the provision shops, were crowded with customers, and the street was pretty well thronged with passengers; mostly working people and their wives, who had done, or were going to do, their shopping. Among these, Mr. Harding threaded his way till he reached the ready-made clothes' shop near the bottom of the high-street.
He went in. There were a good many buyers there; so, going to the far end of the shop, he sat down and waited. There was a working man, in a fustian jacket, at that part of the shop, looking at readymade shirts. Mr. Harding nodded to the dealer opposite, said he was in no hurry, and, looking on with a curious eye, he listened also with a curious ear.
"How much do you want for this?" asked the man. The this was a calico shirt which he held in his hand.
"One and ninepence," said the dealer. "That's too much by threepence," said the buyer; "I'll give you eighteen pence for it."
"I dare say not," replied the other, incredulously.
"There are three yards and three-quarters of calico in that shirt, my friend, at fourpence a yard; and that alone comes to fifteen pence."
"We never make abatement, my friend," replied the shopkeeper. "One and ninepence is my price."
"I could get it cheaper at the other shop," retorted the man; "I saw some ticketed up there, one and sevenpence halfpenny a-piece."
"Very likely," returned the seller; "but the quality is inferior. Here's one you may have for one and sevenpence, if you like."
The man put the cheaper article away contemptuously. "I won't have it. I shall have this or none. Come, twentypence, then; let's have half a pint of beer out of it."
"I cannot afford to sell it for less than one and ninepence," said the tradesman, good-humoredly.
VOL. III, No. 2.-0
Sixpence profit for you, then," exclaimed the man with an oath: "I have to work hard for every sixpence I get. I won't give more than twenty pence: take it or leave it."
"That's no business of mine," said the workingman.
"But it is of mine. Come, my friend, I don't mind letting you into the secrets of the trade. The calico for this shirt comes to one and threepence; cotton and buttons cost a penny; that's one and fourpence; and for making it I pay fourpence: now, how much profit does that produce me when I sell it for one and ninepence ?"
The man replied, with another oath, that he didn't know and did n't care; that he could get as goo shirt elsewhere for twenty pence; and that he would n't give
"You do n't wish shirt-makers to starve, do you, my friend? If I were to sell articles of this quality at your price, I must give a penny less for making. You would n't wish that, I suppose? You know what it is to earn money by hard work yourself; you have some feeling for others, I should think."
"I don't care what you give or what you don't give. Let them starve for what I care. Twenty pence, master; that's my price."
"It is not mine, then, replied the tradesman; and thrusting the crumpled bundle of shirts on to a vacant shelf, he coolly wished the customer good evening. The man went away shirtless, but returned in a minute, and threw down his money on the counter. "I may as well have it," he
said: "'t is less trouble than going to the I never knew anything of her history before; and I was not aware that she so entirely depended on my work. But, if I had, I don't know what I could have done. I have twice as many applicants for work as I can employ, and some must go without. And perhaps you will scarcely credit it, sir; but only this week I have had an offer made by the lady managers of St. Sycamore charity school, of having shirts made by the dozen. They want work, it seems, for the girls; and they offer to make any number of common shirts at three shillings a dozen."
Now, Mr. Alderman Harding's errand to Mr. Wilkins's shop was two-fold. In the first place, it was his intention to reclaim Mary Bevan's watch and ring, taking upon himself, if need were, to stand sponsor for her future honesty; and, in the second place, he had armed himself with strong and forcible arguments in favor of advanced wages to shirt-makers. The scene he had just witnessed, however, rather staggered him, and threw his ideas into some degree of confusion; and it was with less confidence than he had half an hour before anticipated, that he opened his business to the shop-keeper.
The first part of it was soon transacted. Mr. Wilkins expressed himself perfectly satisfied with so good a guarantee as that of the alderman, and placed in his hands the tangible security he had hitherto held.
Is it needful to take such pledges as these for the honesty of your workpeople, Mr. Wilkins ?"
Yes, Mr. Wilkins had found it needful, he said; in the case of comparative strangers, at all events. It was no uncommon thing for workwomen to pledge at the pawnbroker's the goods intrusted to them for making up.
"And how can you, or any one else, wonder at their principles giving way, Mr. Wilkins, when you think of the wretched compensation they receive for their labor?" He had knocked the right nail on the head there, Mr. Harding thought; and perhaps he had.
The shopkeeper met the remark with imperturbable good humor, and admitted that the condition of needlewomen was unsatisfactory.
Could not Mr. Wilkins do something, in his sphere, to mend it?
"You heard what passed just now with my customer? No, sir, I cannot mend it. On the contrary, I shall be driven, by competition, to reduce my wages. I cannot help it, Mr. Harding; if I could, I would."
"It is a desperate necessity, Mr. Wilkins, for a poor girl or woman to sit working hard all day, for the few pence they can earn at shirt-making. There's that girl, Mary Bevan-" and the alderman commented upon her history, and detailed her past privations and utter destitution.
"I am very sorry for it, Mr. Harding;
"And you accepted it ?"
"I have not decided yet. If my workwomen will come down to the threepence —no: if they won't—yes."
“But if you must give such low wages for this inferior work, you are not, surely, ground down so closely in better articles?"
"No, not exactly as regards amount; but almost as closely in proportion. Better articles require better work, and take longer time to execute. Look here, sir;" and Mr. Wilkins laid his hand on a pile of shirts, cut out, but not made up-" the materials for each of these cost me, as nearly as possible, five shillings. They are to be made to order, and the work is to be of a superior description; and yet I am so tied down to price that I am positive the woman who is going to make them will not be able to earn a shilling a day-nothing like it, Mr. Harding. Well, sir, I cannot help it. If the lady-for a lady gave me the order, and a rich lady too-if she would have given another sixpence a piece, that sixpence, or the greater part it, would have gone into the workwoman's pocket; but she would not, and I am obliged to cut the coat, as we say, according to the cloth. The materials I cannot get cheaper, but the work I can; and where I can economize, I must."
"I wonder you can get women to work for you at all," said the alderman: "I would not; I would strike
"And starve. No, sir, that would not do. They know that if one won't work, another will, and they are too glad to take what offers. It is not come to the worst yet, I am afraid. In a short time we shall see competition-competition for business on one hand, and competition for work on the other-bringing down wages to sixpence a day, or less."
"And then, when things are got to the
worst, they will mend, I suppose you think?"
The cloud that had hung over the orphans of Summerville had a silver lining. Mary, when she regained strength, found that she was no longer desolate and friend
"I don't know, Mr. Harding; I hope they may."
"It is competition, then, that does the less; and Willy, when released from mischief?" prison, found that more hopeful prospects had dawned upon him.
As to Mr. Alderman Harding, as he gets older he becomes more active in his benevolence than he used to be. A new,
Mr. Harding left the shop more puzzled than ever. "There is something wrong somewhere," he said, again and again. But where? He could not find out what shoulders to lay it on. He was dissatisfied, too, with the conference. Mr. Wil-theless, he gives more discriminately in
or a more distinct light, seems to have
kins had told the truth, no doubt; but was
charity than formerly, for he feels that "it is a far better thing to help a man to help himself than to do everything for a man. In the one case, you promote dependence; in the other, independence. In the one case, you throw a man down, and keep him down, under the burden of what you have done for him; but, in the other case, you help him so silently and gently and sweetly, that the man does not feel as if he were under any obligation to you; he looks you full in the face, and you walk together, not as the benefactor and the beneficiary, but as brothers and friends."
"I don't say that, sir. Competition is a good thing, when it is not carried too far."
"Then what is to be done?" asked Mr. Harding, impatiently.
"I cannot tell you, sir: it would take a wiser head than mine to answer that question."
We think not. It is a good general principle to buy in the cheapest and sell in the dearest market; but, like all other principles, it has its exceptions. When making our purchases, another maxim may well be present with us, "Live and let live;" and better still, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them." These rules kept in view, when purchases are made, would temper the rigor of competition and soothe many an aching heart.
The moon was shining, near its full, as Mr. Harding retraced his steps up the high-street; but dark clouds obscured it. The alderman looked up. One dark black cloud there was, which cast a gloomy shadow below. But it was not all gloom above.
"The sable cloud Turn'd forth her silver lining on the night,'" said Mr. Harding to himself, quoting the words of one of England's noblest poets, as he saw the bright edging of the dark cloud; and he remembered that what looked so black seen from below, would be bright if seen from above.
The clouds with their silver linings are hanging beautifully over an American forest, in the light of the setting sun. Happy children play before a comfortable cottage; a stalwart forest-looking settler approaches singing a jocund song. It is Willy. He is a lord of the soil-a voter -a town officer. Not far off is the home of his sister-now married and happy. Their charities had secured them friends; friends had furnished them work; they had economized and saved till they were able to secure their passage to, and a home in, the New World. "Hurrah for liberty, and work, and plenty," shouts Will, as he throws down his ax, and lifts up above his head his laughing boy.
"There's a silver lining to every cloud," he continued, "if we had but eyes to see it, or faith to believe it. The Lord God omnipotent reigneth; and,
though clouds and darkness are round ATHEISTS.-Atheists put on a false cour
about him, righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne."" And Mr. Harding no longer trod the street in painful uncertainty.
age and alacrity in the midst of their darkness and apprehension, like children, who, when they go in the dark, will sing for fear.-Swift.