[Illustration: TOM MOORE]
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ma’am dis suade’ re spect’a ble shuf’ fled dan’ ger ous grate’ ful wist’ ful ly mit’ tens outstretched’ res’ cue un daunt’ ed an’ ti qua ted
Going down a very steep street, where the pavement was covered with ice, I saw before me an old woman, slowly and timidly picking her way. She was one of the poor but respectable old ladies who dress in rusty black, wear old-fashioned bonnets, and carry big bags.
Some young folks laugh at these antiquated figures; but those who are better bred treat them with respect. They find something touching in the faded suits, the withered faces, and the knowledge that these lonely old ladies have lost youth, friends, and often fortune, and are patiently waiting to be called away from a world that seems to have passed by and forgotten them.
Well, as I slipped and shuffled along, I watched the little black bonnet in front, expecting every minute to see it go down, and trying to hurry, that I might offer my help.
At the corner, I passed three little school-girls, and heard one say to another, “O, I wouldn’t; she will do well enough, and we shall lose our coasting, unless we hurry.”
“But if she should tumble and break her poor old bones, I should feel so bad,” returned the second, a pleasant-faced child, whose eyes, full of a sweet, pitiful expression, followed the old lady.
“She’s such a funny-looking woman, I shouldn’t like to be seen walking with her,” said the third, as if she thought it a kind thing to do, but had not the courage to try it.
“Well, I don’t care; she’s old, and ought to be helped, and I’m going to do it,” cried the pleasant-faced girl; and, running by me, I saw her overtake the old lady, who stood at a crossing, looking wistfully over the dangerous sheet of ice before her.
“Please, ma’am, may I help you, it’s so bad here?” said the kind little voice, as the hands in the red mittens were helpfully out-stretched.
“O, thank you, dear. I’d no idea the walking was so bad; but I must get home.” And the old face lighted up with a grateful smile, which was worth a dozen of the best coasts in Boston.
“Take my arm then; I’ll help you down the street, for I’m afraid you might fall,” said the child, offering her arm.
“Yes, dear, so I will. Now we shall get on beautifully. I’ve been having a dreadful time, for my over-socks are all holes, and I slip at every step.”
“Keep hold, ma’am, I won’t fall. I have rubber boots, and can’t tumble.”
So chatting, the two went safely across, leaving me and the other girls to look after them and wish that we had done the little act of kindness, which now looked so lovely in another.
“I think Katy is a very good girl, don’t you?” said one child to the other.