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the beautiful building and the reverence of the motley congregation of fellow-worshippers who were assembled with her to join in the great rite of the Church. Besides a few who appeared to be of a higher station in life, there were working men in their daily dress having snatched a few moments before going to their work. Pale women in poor clothing ; Sisters after their night's vigil in hospitals, refreshing their worn spirits from the One Great Fountain of Life. And two poor creatures from a Refuge, whose bowed heads and hardly repressed sobs told that their penitence was truly that of a Magdalen.
But soon a few solemn notes rolled forth from the organ, and then a hushed silence and the holy service began. Never before had Lady Tudor been so entirely sensible of the Spiritual Presence which was amongst them, and when at last the blessing was pronounced, it was with lips trembling with a new emotion that she joined in the hymn which burst forth.
“SAVIOUR, blessed SAVIOUR,
Listen whilst we sing,
Praises to our King.
All we hope to be,
All we yield to Thee.”
Mr. Leslie was waiting for Lady Tudor when, after long-continued private devotion, she found herself in the porch. “ You must come with me to the vicarage,” he said,
my wife will give us some breakfast, and then I will show you some of my plans of work."
A warm welcome from the Vicar's gentle wife and some much-needed refreshment filled up the next hour, and then a little insight was given into the daily life at the vicarage.
“ I will take Lady Tudor to visit our Home for destitute girls,” said Mrs. Leslie, “and then you shall show her one of the districts. She must count the cost before undertaking to visit amongst our people.”
“I am ready to do anything, Mrs. Leslie," said Lady Tudor; "it is a happiness to think for a moment I can yet be useful to others.”
“ I am sure you will find pleasure in it,” said Mr. Leslie ; “but as my wife
says, it will be better for you not to decide too hastily—it is no bed of roses. Still the Cross under whose Banner we fight will not
crush us by its weight if we look upward and lean upon Him Who died upon it, and bore it first Himself.”
The Home for destitute girls was first visited. It was deeply touching to see these poor creatures gladly nurtured and tended by the excellent Sisters, under whose care they generally became softened and humanized, and when drafted off to service, in many instances proved that the influence had been so blessed as to make them respectable servants and ever grateful for the arm which had been stretched out to save them.
The walk through the district with Mr. Leslie was even less inviting than the prospect of superintending and assisting in the work at the Home. Dirt and squalor seemed to reign everywhere. Now and then some slight recognition was given to the Vicar, as with Lady Tudor at his side, he passed down the narrow courts and alleys. But as a general rule, a rude stare or a rough exclamation was all the notice that was taken of them. Some wretched-looking mothers seemed too apathetic in their degraded lives even for curiosity, others looked with menacing demeanour at the intruders. There was little to encourage.
Yet the very sight of all this misery and the hope that she might help to lighten it, tended to lift the cloud from Lady Tudor's life and shed one ray of blessing on her future.
Weeks passed on, bringing with them a healthful routine of work and interest to Lady Tudor. She was surprised when she reached her home in the evening, how little time she had for bewailing her past happiness; how gradually and yet effectually her sympathies were being called out, and how many hitherto unknown interests were aroused within her. The people in her district began now to know her and to look for her visits; but it had not been all pleasant work. People looked often on her with suspicion, and it was very difficult to make them believe that she was perfectly disinterested in her endeavours to do them good. “I always dressed myself well when I visited them,”
. she used to say in after years ; “I think my seal skin and rustling silks did a great deal towards quieting their suspicions; they fancied I did not wish to gain anything from them if I was not shabby. But I never gave
them money—if I had done so I should not have known which were honest and which were not. I always referred them to the Vicar."
As time went on the poorest and most squalid looked upon her as a friend, and many a weeping ill-treated woman watched for hours to catch a glimpse of her dark robes as they passed at the end of the narrow passage, in hopes of hearing her gentle loving voice, or getting a look or a word of sympathy.
Her influence over the girls at the Home grew to be wonderful. It was a struggle to one brought up in the refinement which characterized Lady Tudor's early and married life, to overcome the reluctance she felt to listen to the hideous narrations which many of them had to give. But she took up this Cross, and won their confidence. The most wild and untamed of them were silent in a moment at the sound of Lady Tudor's light footstep, and the affection of some of them towards her was almost passionate. The very purity and refinement which surrounded her like a halo seemed to extend to these poor outcasts, and to reflect on them, coarse and defiled though they had become, something of her own purity.
One young girl had been brought to the Home by a friend who was anxious to do her good; but ever since her arrival she had shown a most sullen demeanour. The good Sisters could make no impression on her, even their unvarying kindness seemed to be thrown away. She would give them no answer, nor would she assist in any
household work, and seemed only to be watching her opportunity to run away and join her old vagabond associates. The Vicar had spoken to her, and with a power peculiarly his own had tried to lead her mind to penitence, but all seemed in vain until one day, in visiting the Home, Lady Tudor observed this girl sitting in hardened silence, and addressed her, asking her to do some little office for her.
No notice was taken for a moment or two, when suddenly, as her kind friend stood waiting, fixing her quiet eyes on the girl, she rose and sprang forward, saying, Will you
trust me to bring you that bag ?” “Of course, Mary. I am waiting until you do “Then you's the first as ever did. I won't steal anything from
This was the beginning of a long series of conversations, during which Lady Tudor became acquainted with much of the girl's history, which was a mournful picture of wretchedness and crime. But she was softening now, although she was still a difficult character to deal with.
* Mary,” said her good friend, “I want you to forget your past dreadful life, and think of nothing but the dear LORD and His Cross that I have been telling you about; the Blood that was shed there
you try, my poor girl ?” And with gentle earnestness she placed her hand on her shoulder.
Mary shrank back from her.
“Will you touch me, after all you know about me? Oh, lady, lady, you who never did anything wrong !" and she bent down her head, sobbing. Then as she listened to the soothing words of trath which her friend poured into her ears, she just lifted up her face for a moment, and pressing her lips to the Cross which was suspended around Lady Tudor's neck, she said in a low, trembling voice, "I will try to be good, for the sake of that, and all you have said it means.
One morning, when two or three days had elapsed since Lady Tudor's last visit to the Home, she was met by the Vicar at the door, and his face was graver than usual.
“I am not sure that you ought to go in here to-day,” he said, greeting her in his usual kind voice; we have two cases of severe illness, fever I fear.”
“I do not see that that need hinder my visits, Mr. Leslie,” said Lady Tudor, turning with him, however, and walking slowly by his side. She was resolving in her own mind, and with an unspoken prayer asking counsel from on high. Then she added,—“You will at least let me help you in this one thing. Let me take the superintendence of the Home out of Mrs. Leslie's hands for the present. For the sake of her children, and for your sake, she ought not to go into the atmosphere of fever. I have no one at home to take infection to-mine is a solitary life, let me discover that even that ingredient in it be a useful one, and may give me the comfort of doing what those with nearer ties ought not to do. Do not refuse me this thing.”
He was silent for a few minutes, evidently in emotion.
“If I do not refuse you, my friend, it is because I dare not stand in the way
sacrifice made for our dear LORD's sake. But I fear this will be a trying task for you to perform. Will you think it over, and come to me with your decision to-morrow? It is better you should not go to the Home to-day. Wait, and calmly think and
On the morrow, with unshaken resolution, she was again at the door of the Home, very plainly attired, and divested of everything that would hinder free action, or increase the likelihood of infection. The Vicar again met her. He was pale, and the calm dignity of his usual demeanour had given way to an expression of firm determination and energetic resolve.
“ You are come, then,” he said, and his bright eyes flashed a glance of grateful encouragement on her. “ We have no time to lose, and I will not refuse your willing and capable help. You are one, thank God, who can obey as well as command. We have thirteen cases of typhoid fever in the Home, and we must draft off the rest of the inmates to other places before the day is over.”
She did not flinch at this terrible announcement. A sort of strength seemed to enter her spirit at the words of the priest, and without excitement, but rising to the great call there was for energy and determination, she entered with him the infected house.
It was a long remembered day to her. The necessity for complete organization, and implicit obedience to the plans formed, forced itself at once upon her. But the difficulty of working upon the poor, ignorant, frightened creatures, so as to make them understand anything, was very great. The Sisters' hands were full in attending upon the poor sick ones, and theirs was no easy task. Then telegrams were to be sent to other Homes and Refuges to find out if they could receive some of the inmates temporarily. But much was done at last, and the evening came. The girl I have before mentioned was one of the two or three yet remaining to be disposed of. She had been giving some trouble again lately, and had often threatened she would run away. Now she was sitting idle and helpless.
Mary,” said Lady Tudor, “I must take you out of this house now; but I am very busy, and cannot afford to waste any time. I will go with you myself to Newport Street if you will promise me not to run away, but to go with me without trouble. I am very tired, and have no time to spare. Will you make me this promise, Mary?”.
After a minute's pause, and looking up at the kind face,—“ If you will take me yourself, lady, I will go. I won't try and run away.”
“Very well, Mary, put your things on, and I shall be ready in ten minutes."
Over the bridge they walked side by side, the high-born lady and the outcast. Then they got into an omnibus. But the other passengers looked surprised, and altogether the two drew attention, so incongruous did the companionship appear. So Lady Tudor thought it was better to walk, and again they were pacing along the lighted