A Start in Life.
“His path in life was
He was a working man;
Who knows the poor man’s trials
So well as Jesus can?”
At Mill Bank Farm things were going on much as when Nelly Connor had become an inmate there. Under the influence of her watchword, Bessie was making good headway against her faults of idleness and carelessness, and her mother declared she was growing a “real comfort” to her. Under her teaching Nelly’s reading had progressed so well, that she could spell out very creditably a chapter in the New Testament. Jenny and Jack had also been taught their letters; and though they were not to go to Sunday school till the spring, they had already learned from Bessie a good deal of Bible knowledge. Sam was not nearly so often a truant now, that he knew his mother’s watchful eye was ready to discover any omission in attending Sunday school; and the boys were gradually growing in respect for things on which they could see their mother now placed so much importance.
Nelly had never before known so much of comfort and happiness. She was treated as one of the family, and the easy tasks which fell to her lot were labours of love and gratitude. Even the irksome sewing, by dint of patiently struggling with her constitutional restlessness, was growing almost a pleasure, from her being able to do it so much better. In the letters which Bessie occasionally received from Lucy, there was always a kind message for Nelly, which would act as a wonderful stimulus for days after it came.
As the winter wore on, however, it was evident she was not greatly needed by her kind friends. Bessie was growing stronger every day, and more able to assist her mother, and Nelly could not help feeling that she was kept only because she needed a home. One day, therefore, she asked Mrs. Ford if she thought she was not now fit to take a place.
“Well, you’ve got to be a good little worker, that’s a fact; but there’s no hurry about your going. You’re welcome to stay here as long as you like.”
“It’s very kind of you, ma’am; but perhaps if you’d be looking out you might hear of some one that would take me, and give me whatever I was worth,” said Nelly, in whom the instinct of independence was strong.
A few days after this Mrs. Ford was asked by her friend Mrs. Thompson what she was going to do with her little Irish girl. “She is big enough for a place,” she said, “and there is no good in having a girl like that learning idle ways. I think I know of a place that would suit her very well.”
“What place is that?” asked Mrs. Ford.
Mrs. Thompson replied that a friend of hers in the city had written to inquire for a country girl about Nelly’s age. She would have no hard work, and would get such clothing as she required, instead of wages in money.
“You see servants are very hard to obtain in those large places,” remarked Mrs. Thompson, “and they always want the highest wages; and this person isn’t very well off, and keeps boarders to support herself, so she can’t afford a great deal.”