One afternoon the Leightons had gone to join a picnic party some two miles from the city. They had invited me to accompany them, but as usual I declined. I felt sad and lonely that long afternoon, and, being left entirely alone, I could not prevent my thoughts from recurring to the past. I thought of all the happy, careless days of my childhood; then my memory ran back to the night, when, at ten years of age, I stood by the death-bed of my father. With the eye of memory, I again saw my mother, as she stood bowed with grief at the grave of my father; and now I was left alone to mourn for both father and mother. Memory also fondly turned to Miss Edmonds, my first teacher. I felt that to see her again would indeed be happiness; but I knew not where Miss Edmonds then resided. The last time I had heard from her she contemplated going South, as governess in a gentleman’s family. Then came the memory of the happy years I passed in Mrs. Wentworth’s school. Where now were the many friends I had then known and loved? As these thoughts passed in quick succession through my mind, I could not refrain from weeping; and, as I was under no restraint from the presence of others, my tears seemed almost a luxury. I know not how long my fit of weeping might have continued had not one of the domestics entered the room, and informed me that a poor woman was in the kitchen seeking charity.
“I thought,” said the girl, “as the other ladies are all away, you might give her a trifle, for she seems very needy.”
Hastily drying my tears, I went down to the kitchen, where I found a young woman, who would have been very pretty but for the look of want and suffering depicted upon her countenance. It was evident, from her appearance, that she was not an habitual beggar. As I approached her, she seemed much embarrassed, as she said,—
“Sure an’ its mesilf that never expected to come to this at all, at all.”
“My poor woman,” said I, “you appear to have been unfortunate.”
“An’ its mesilf that has been misfortunate,” she replied, as the tears gathered in her fine, dark eyes. She continued,—
“There was never a happier couple than Dinnis O’Flaherty an’ I the day the praste made us one. But, after a while, the wages got low, and the times were hard wid us. ‘Polly,’ says Dinnis to me one day, ’will you be afther goin’ to Ameriky wid me?’ ‘Dinnis,’ says I, ’wherever it plases you to go its I, Polly McBrine, that’s ready and willin’ to follow.’ We sailed in the St. Pathrick, and tin days afther I saw my darlin’ Dinnis buried in the salt say. He fell sick wid a faver, and all me prayers for his life could not save him; an’ here I am, a lone widdy, in a shtrange land, without a penny in me pocket, nor a place to lay me head.”