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they had been a little better in their affairs. John Irad nothing but his trade, and Margaret being left an orphan, brought her husband, only a little money that slie had saved in the service of a worthy clergyman, the curate of the next parish. This little sum was laid out in buying a bed, and a few other articles of household furniture, with a small stock of leather for his work. In spite of their poverty, they contrived to maintain themselves during the first years of their marriage, by dint of labour and good management. But children came on, and then be: gan their difficulties. Yet still they might have made it out by doubling their industry, if misfortunes had not happened to them. Poor Margaret, who had worked in the fields every day during the hay-time, 'to bring home some money at night to her husband, fell sick of fatigue, and continued so all the harvest, and all winter. Phy sic is very expensive, and thren, besides, the work did not go on so well,, because John's customers left him one by one, as they were afraid of being ill served in a house where there was a siek wife. At last Margaret grew better, but her husband's business declined. He was obliged to borrow money to pay the apothecary; and having lost all his customers, he was now quite out of work. At the same time Margaret could earn nothing her strength was so much reduced, that nobody would give ber employment. Besides, the rent of their house, and the interest of the money that they had borrowed, came heavily upon them. They were obliged more than once to saffer hunger, and thought themselves very happy when they had a morsel of bread to give to their children. [At these words little Jack withdrew into a corner, and began to sob.] With all this it happened that their hard-hearted landlord, seeing them not able to pay the rent of the two winter quarters, threatened John to put him in gaol.
They begged hard of him to have patience until the haymaking came on, because then they could earn something. by working in the fields ; but neither their entreaties nor their tears could soften him, though he is the richest man in the place. It was with much ado that he allowed them a month's delay; but he swore that if at the end of that time lie was not paid the whole, he would sell their furpiture and put John in prison.”
Their house was now a picture of melancholy and patient distress, capable of softening a heart of stone. You may believe me, Sir; I have often been grieved to the soul on hearing the complaints of these good neighbours, and not being able to relieve them. I went once myself to their landlord, and prayed him to have compassion on their extremity. I offered to pawn to him all that I possessed in the world. But it was to no purpose. You are no better than they are,' answered he : "this it is to have such trash of tenants as you are altogether. Ah ! Sir, (here the tears trickled down Susan's cheeks,] I bore this reproach patiently, that I might not provoke him still more; but oh! how I suffered in being no more than a poor wie dow, and in not being able to afford the least comfort to those worthy people! How much good the rich might do: if they had the same inclination as the poor! But to return to our unfortunate neighbours :, I advised: Margaret to make known her distresses to the clergyman with whom she had lived some years as an honest and worthy servant, and to beg of him to advanoe her some money. She answer: edi me, that she would speak about it to her husband, but that she could hardly think of doing so, because the curate might imagine that they were reduced to want through their own bad management. Three days ago she brought me her two children as she used to do, and begged me to take care of them till the evening. She intended to go
to a neighbouring village, and try if she could have some hemp from the weaver to‘spin, in order to clear her debte She could never bring herself to go before the clergyman her old master; but her husband was to go in her stead, and he had set off the same day. I took charge of the children with pleasure, for I loved them very well, having been at the birth of them. Margaret, as she was going, clasped them to her breast and kissed them, as if it were the last time that ever she should see them. Her eyes were swimming in tears, and she said to the eldest, Jackes, I am to be back very soon, and then I'll come and fetch you. She took me by the hand, thanked me for being so good as to look after her children, kissed them once more and departed. A little time after I heard an odd sort of noise in her house, that went thump as it were; but imagining that she was gone out, I supposed it might be only the inner door clapping to, and so I did not think any more about it. Well, the evening came on, it grew dark night, and I saw nothing of my neighbour. I thought I would go to her house, and see if she was gone in to lay her hemp down before she came to fetch the children. I found the door open, and went in. But, O! how was I struck on beholding Margaret stretched at her length, stone dead, at the foot of the stairs ! As for me! stood motionless, and as cold as a stone. I did not know what to do. At length after trying in vain to recover her, I ran to the surgeon, who came, and feeling her pulse, shook his head, and sent directly for the coroner. They held an inquest, the surgeon being present, to examine how she came by her death ; and they brought it in that she must-have died suddenly, or that, having fallen into a fit, and not being able to call for help, she expired in that con dition. I can easily imagine how it happened. , She had returned into her own house to go up to the lost for the bag
that hat was to hold her hemp, and as her eyes were still dimned with tears, she had missed her step in coming down, ad fallen from the top of the stairs, with her head foremost, nz the ground. The bag that was beside her shewed it lainly. Yet for all that, the coroner thought otherwise., so the body was ordered to be buried the next morning sefore daylight in a corner of the churchyard, and an inquiry to be made after John, to know what was become of him.
I proposed to the parish officers to keep the two children myself; for though I find it hard enough to live, yet, thought I, the bounteous God knows that I am a helpless. widow; and if these two children cone to my charge, will surely assist me to feed them. The younger brother to this did not stay long with me. Yesterday, of all days, and even not long after Margaret had been buried, did the worthy curate her old master come to see her. He knocked for some time at her door, and as nobody opened, he came to my window and asked me what was become of John Johnston the shoemaker that lived in the next house. I told bim that if he would give himself the trouble to step in a moment, I had many things to tell him. He came in, and sat down there, just where you are. I told him all that had happened, which made him shed tears. Afterwards I told him that John had some thoughts of applying to bim in bis distress. He seemed surprised, and assured me positively that he had not seen John. The two children came up to him, and he fondled them a good deal. Little Jack asked him if he could not awake his mother, who had been a long time asleep. The tears came into the good curate's eyes, when he heard the child talk so; and he said to me, Good woman, "I will send to-morrow for these two little boys, and I will keep them at home with me. If their father returns, and should be able to bring them up,
I shall restore them to him whenever he requires it. In the mean time I will take charge of their education. All this was not very agreeable to me; for I love these little innocenta as if I were their mother, and it would have givett me some pain to see them snatched from me so soon. Doctor, said I to him, I cannot consent to part with these children I am used to them, and they are used to me. Well then, my good woman, you must give me one of them, and I will leave you the other, since he is likely to be so happy with you ; and from time to time I shall send you something towards his maintenance. I could not refuse the good par son this. He asked little Jack if he should not like to go with him. What; there, where my mother is ? said Jack; Oh yes, with all my heart.-No, my little man, I do not mean there; but to my handsome house, and my handsome garden. No, no, let me stay here with Susan.: I'll go every day to where my mother is. I would rather go there than to your handsome garden. The good gentle man did not choose to trouble the child more, who had gone to hide himself behind the curtains of my bed. He told me that he would send his man for the youngest, who would give me more trouble than the other; and at his going, left me some money for this child. This, sir, is all that I have to inform you of the parents of little Jack. What doubles my uneasiness at present is, that John does not return, and that a report goes in the parish, that he has gone to join a gang of smugglers, and that his wife killed herself før grief. These stories have gained such ground in the vile, lage, that there is not one, even to the children, bat talks of them; and whenever my poor Jack would go amongst the other boys, they drive him away, and are ready to beat him. The poor child is quite dull, and never stirs out now, unless to go to his mother's grave.'! . .:
Mr Churchill had listened in silence to Susan's account,