+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

was very cold, and when I 'd seen as well as
I could (for it was past ten) that there was no
one in the street, I brought it in and warmed
it. Father was very angry when he came,
and said he'd take it to the workhouse the
next morning, and flyted me sadly about it,
But when morning came I could not bear to
part with it; it had slept in my arms all
night; and I've heard what workhouse bringing
up is. So I told father I 'd give up going
out working, and stay at home and keep
school, if I might only keep the baby; and
after awhile, he said if I earned enough for
him to have his comforts, he'd let me;
but he's never taken to her. Now, don't
tremble so,—I've but a little more to tell,—
and maybe I 'm wrong in telling it; but I
used to work next door to Mrs. Lomax's, in
Brabazon-street, and the servants were all
thick together; and I heard about Bessy
(they called her) being sent away. I don't
know that ever I saw her; but the time would
be about fitting to this child's age, and I've
sometimes fancied it was her's. And now,
will you look at the little clothes that came
with herbless her!'

But Mrs. Leigh had fainted. The strange
joy and shame, and gushing love for the little
child had overpowered her; it was some time
before Susan could bring her round. There
she was all trembling, sick impatience to look
at the little frocks. Among them was a slip
of paper which Susan had forgotten to name,
that had been pinned to the bundle. On it
was scrawled in a round stiff hand,

'Call her Anne. She does not cry much,
and takes a deal of notice. God bless you and
forgive me.'

The writing was no clue at all; the name
'Anne,' common though it was, seemed
some thing to build upon. But Mrs. Leigh
recognised one of the frocks instantly, as being
made out of part of a gown that she and her
daughter had bought together in Rochdale.

She stood up, and stretched out her hands
in the attitude of blessing over Susan's bent

'God bless you, and show you His mercy
in your need, as you have shown it to this
little child.'

She took the little creature in her arms,
and smoothed away her sad looks to a smile,
and kissed it fondly, saying over and over
again, 'Nanny, Nanny, my little Nanny.' At
last the child was soothed, and looked in her
face and smiled back again.

'It has her eyes,' said she to Susan.

'I never saw her to the best of my
knowledge. I think it must be her's by the frock.
But where can she be?'

'God knows,' said Mrs. Leigh; 'I dare not
think she's dead. I 'm sure she isn't.'

'No! she's not dead. Every now and
then a little packet is thrust in under our
door, with may be two half-crowns in it; once
it was half-a-sovereign. Altogether I've got
seven-and-thirty shillings wrapped up for
Nanny. I never touch it, but I 've often
thought the poor mother feels near to God
when she brings this money. Father wanted
to set the policeman to watch, but I said No,
for I was afraid if she was watched she might
not come, and it seemed such a holy thing to
be checking her in, I could not find in my
heart to do it.'

'Oh, if we could but find her! I 'd take
her in my arms, and we 'd just lie down and
die together.'

'Nay, don't speak so! ' said Susan gently,
'for all that's come and gone, she may turn
right at last. Mary Magdalen did, you know.'

'Eh! but I were nearer right about thee
than Will. He thought you would never
look on him again if you knew about Lizzie.
But thou 'rt not a Pharisee.'

'I 'm sorry he thought I could be so hard,'
said Susan in a low voice, and colouring up.
Then Mrs. Leigh was alarmed, and in her
motherly anxiety, she began to fear lest she
had injured Will in Susan's estimation.

'You see Will thinks so much of you
gold would not be good enough for you to
walk on, in his eye. He said you 'd never
look at him as he was, let alone his being
brother to my poor wench. He loves you
so, it makes him think meanly on everything
belonging to himself, as not fit to come near
ye,—but he's a good lad, and a good son
thou 'lt be a happy woman if thou 'lt have
him,—so don't let my words go against him;

But Susan hung her head and made no
answer. She had not known until now, that
Will thought so earnestly and seriously about
her; and even now she felt afraid that Mrs.
Leigh's words promised her too much
happiness, and that they could not be true. At
any rate the instinct of modesty made her
shrink from saying anything which might
seem like a confession of her own feelings to a
third person. Accordingly she turned the
conversation on the child.

'I 'm sure he could not help loving Nanny,'
said she. 'There never was such a good
little darling; don't you think she 'd win
his heart if he knew she was his niece, and
perhaps bring him to think kindly on his

'I dunnot know,' said Mrs. Leigh, shaking
her head. 'He has a turn in his eye like his
father, that makes me——. He's right down
good though. But you see I've never been
a good one at managing folk; one severe look
turns me sick, and then I say just the wrong
thing, I 'm so fluttered. Now I should like
nothing better than to take Nancy home with
me, but Tom knows nothing but that his
sister is dead, and I 've not the knack of
speaking rightly to Will. I dare not do it,
and that's the truth. But you mun not think
badly of Will. He's so good hissel, that he
can't understand how any one can do wrong;
and, above all, I 'm sure he loves you dearly.'

'I don't think I could part with Nancy,'