THE GIRL'S OWN PAPER
VOL. VIII.—NO. 353.
OCTOBER 2, 1886.
Price One Penny.
BY ROSA NOUCHETTE CAREY, Author of "Aunt Diana," "For Lilias," etc.
THE VALLEY OF HUMILIATION.
"Merle, I may be a little old-fashioned in my notions; middle-aged people never adjust their ideas quite in harmony with you young folk, but in my day we never paused to count fifty at a full stop."
Aunt Agatha's voice startled me with its reproachful irritability. Well, I had deserved that little sarcasm for I must confess that I had been reading very carelessly. My favourite motto was ringing in my ears, "Laborare est orare."
Somehow the words had set themselves to resonant music in my brain; it seemed as though I were chanting them inwardly all the time I was climbing down the steep hill with Christiana and her boys. Laborare est orare. And this is what I was reading on that still, snowy Sunday afternoon: "But we will come again to this Valley of Humiliation. It is the best and most fruitful piece of ground in all these parts. It is a fat ground, and, as you see, consisteth much in meadows, and if a man was to come here in the summertime as we do now, if he knew not anything before thereof, and if he delighted himself in the sight of his eyes, he might see that which would be delightful to him. Behold how green this valley is, also how beautiful with lilies! I have known many labouring men that have got good estates in this Valley of Humiliation."
"Merle," observed Aunt Agatha, a little dryly, "we may as well leave off there, for it seems that you and I are to have our estate among the labouring men in this very valley."
Aunt Agatha was a clever woman, and could say shrewd things sometimes, but she never spoke a truer word than this; but my wits were no longer wool-gathering.
"What a pity you stopped me just then," I remarked, somewhat sententiously; "we have missed the purest gem of the allegory. 'He that is down need fear no fall; he that is low no pride.'" But here a hand was lifted in protesting fashion.
"Put the marker in the page, child, and spare me the rest; that is in favour of your argument, not mine," for a weary discussion had been waged between us for two whole hours—a discussion that had driven Aunt Agatha exhausted to the couch, but which had only given me a tingling feeling of excitement, such as a raw recruit might experience at the sight of a battlefield. Aunt Agatha's ladylike ideas lay dead and wounded round her while I had made that last impetuous charge.
"I am of age, a free Englishwoman, living in a free country, and not all the nineteenth century prejudices, though they are thick as dragons' teeth, shall prevent me, Merle Fenton, of sane mind and healthy body, from doing what I believe to be my duty."
"Humph, I am rather doubtful of the sanity; I always told you that you were too independent and strong-minded for a girl; but what is the use of preaching to deaf ears?" continued Aunt Agatha, in a decidedly cross voice, as she arranged the cushions comfortably.
It was true that I was getting the best of the argument, and yet I was sorry for Aunt Agatha. I felt how I was shocking all her notions of decorum and propriety, and giving pain to the kindest and gentlest heart in the world; but one cannot lead a new crusade without trampling on some prejudices. I knew all my little world would shriek "fie," and "for shame" into my ears, and all because I was bent on working out a new theory. The argument had grown out of such a little thing. I had shown Aunt Agatha an advertisement in the Morning Post, and announced my intention of answering it in person the following morning.
"NURSE.—Can any lady recommend a thoroughly conscientious superior person to take charge of two children, baby eighteen months old? Assistance given in the nursery. Must be a good, plain needlewoman. Prince's Gate, S.W."
To the last day of my life I do not think that I shall ever forget Aunt Agatha's face when she read that advertisement.
"You intend to offer yourself for this situation, Merle—to lose caste, and take your place among menials? It is enough to make my poor brother rise in his grave, and your poor, dear mother too, to think of a Fenton stooping to such degradation." But I will forbear to transcribe all the wordy avalanche of lady-like invective that was hurled at me, accompanied by much wringing of hands.
And yet the whole thing lay in a nut-shell. I, Merle Fenton, sound, healthy, and aged two-and-twenty, being orphaned, penniless, and only possessing one near relative in the world—Aunt Agatha—declined utterly to be dependent for my daily bread and the clothes I wore on the goodwill of her husband and my uncle by marriage, Ezra Keith.
No, I was not good. I daresay I was self-willed, contradictory, and as obstinate as a mule that will go every way but the right way, but, all the same, I loved Aunt Agatha, my dead father's only sister, and I detested Uncle Keith with a perfectly unreasonable detestation.
Aunt Agatha had been a governess all her life. Certainly the Fenton family had not much to boast of in the way of wealth. Pedigree and poverty are not altogether pleasant yoke fellows. It may be comfortable to one's feelings to know that a certain progenitor of ours made boots at the time of the Conquest, though I am never quite sure in my mind that they had bootmakers then; but my historical knowledge was always defective. But a little money is also pleasant; indeed, if the pedigree and the money came wooing to me, and I had to choose between them—well, perhaps I had better hold my tongue on that subject; for what is the good of shocking people unless one has a very good reason for doing so?
My father's pedigree did not help him into good practice, and he died young—a grave mistake, people tell me, for a professional man to commit. My mother was very pretty and very helpless, but then she had a pedigree, too, and, probably, that forbade her to soil her white hands. She was a fine lady, with more heart than head, which she had lost most unwisely to the handsome young doctor. After his death, she made futile efforts for her child's sake, but the grinding wheel of poverty caught the poor butterfly and crushed her to death.
My poor, tender-hearted, unhappy mother! Well, the world is a cruel place to these soft, unprotected natures.
I should have fared badly but for Aunt Agatha; her hardly-earned savings were all spent on my education. She was a clever, highly-educated woman, and commanded good salaries, and out of this she contrived to board and maintain me at a school until she married, and Uncle Keith promised that I should share their home.
I never could understand why Aunt Agatha married him. Perhaps she was tired of the drudgery of teaching; at forty-five one may grow a little weary of one's work. Perhaps she wanted a home for her old age, and was tired of warming herself at other people's fires, and preferred a chimney corner of her own; but, strange to say, she always scouted these two notions with the utmost indignation.
"I married your uncle, Merle," she would say, with great dignity, "because he convinced me that he was the right person for me to marry. I have no more idea than you how he contrived to instil this notion into my head, for though I am a plain body and never had any beauty, I must own I liked tall, good-looking men. But there, my dear, I lived forty-five years in the world without three things very common in women's lives—without beauty, without love, and without discontent." And in this last clause she was certainly right. Aunt Agatha was the most contented creature in the world.
If Uncle Keith—for never, never would I call him Uncle Ezra, even had he asked me as a personal favour to do so—if Uncle Keith had been rich I could have understood the marriage better, being rather a mercenary and far-sighted young person, but he had only a very small income. He was managing clerk in some mercantile house, and, being a thrifty soul, invested all his spare cash instead of spending it.
Aunt Agatha had lived in grand houses all her life, but she was quite content with the little cottage at Putney to which her husband took her. They only kept one servant; but Aunt Agatha proved herself to be a notable housekeeper. She arranged and rearranged the old-fashioned furniture that had belonged to Uncle Keith's mother until she had made quite a charming drawing-room; but that was just her way; she had clever brains, and clever fingers, and to manipulate old materials into new fashions was just play work to her.
But for me, I am perfectly convinced that Aunt Agatha would have called herself the happiest woman in the world, but my discontent leavened the household. If three people elect to live together, the success of the scheme demands that one of the three should not smile sourly on all occasions.
For two whole years I tried to be amiable when Uncle Keith was in the room, and at last gave up the attempt in despair, baffled by my own evil tempers, and yet I will say I was not a bad-tempered girl. I must have had good in me or Aunt Agatha would not have been so fond of me. I call that a real crucial test—other people's fondness for us.
Why is it so difficult to get on with some folk, very worthy people in their way?
Why do some people invariably rub up one's fur until it bristles with discomfort? Why do these same thoroughly estimable creatures bring a sort of moral east wind with them, scarifying one's nerves? Surely it is beneath the dignity of a human being to be rasped by a harsh, drawling voice, or offended by trifling mannerisms. Uncle Keith was just like one of my sums—you might add him up, subtract from him, divide or multiply him, but he would never come right in the end; one always reckoned that he was more or less than he was. He was a little, pale, washed-out looking man, with sandy hair and prominent brown eyes. Being an old bachelor when he married Aunt Agatha, he had very precise, formal ways, and was methodical and punctual to a fault. Next to Uncle Keith, I hated that white-faced watch of his. I hated the slow, ponderous way in which he drew it from his pocket, and produced it for my special benefit.
I have said that my detestation of Uncle Keith was somewhat unreasonable. I must own I had no grave reasons for my dislike. Uncle Keith had a good moral character; he was a steady church-goer, was painstaking and abstemious; never put himself in a passion, or, indeed, lost his temper for a minute; but how was a girl to tolerate a man who spent five minutes scraping his boots before he entered his own door, whatever the weather might be; who said, "Hir-rumph" (humph was what he meant) before every sentence, booming at one like a great bee; who always prefaced a lecture with a "my dear;" who would not read a paper until it was warmed; who would burn every cinder before fresh coals were allowed on the fire; who looked reproachfully at my crumbs (I crumbled my bread purposely at last), and scooped them carefully in his hand for the benefit of the birds, with the invariable remark, "Waste not, want not," a saying I learnt to detest?
I suppose if we are ever admitted into heaven we shall find very odd people there; but perhaps they will have dropped their trying ways and peculiarities, as the chrysalis drops its case, and may develop all sorts of new prismatic glories. I once heard a lady say that she was afraid the society there would be rather mixed; she was a very exclusive person; but Solomon tells us that there is nothing new under the sun, so I suppose we shall never be without our modern Pharisees and Sadducees. The grand idea to me is that there will be room for all. I do not know when the idea first came to me that it was a mean thing to live under a man's roof, eating his bread and warming oneself at his fire, and all the time despising him in one's heart. I only know that one day the idea took possession of me, and, like an Eastern mustard seed, grew and flourished. Soon after that Uncle Keith had rather a serious loss—some mercantile venture in which he was interested had come to grief. I began to notice small retrenchments in the household; certain little luxuries were given up. Now and then Aunt Agatha grew a little grave as she balanced her weekly accounts. One night I took myself to task.
"What business have you, a strong, healthy, young woman," I observed to myself, severely, "to be a burthen on these good folk? What is enough for two may be a tight fit for three; it was that new mantle of yours, Miss Merle, that has put out the drawing-room fire for three weeks, and has shut up the sherry in the sideboard. Is it fair or right that Aunt Agatha and Uncle Keith should forego their little comforts just because an idle girl is on their hands?"
I pondered this question heavily before I summoned courage to speak to Aunt Agatha. To my surprise she listened to me very quietly, though her soft brown eyes grew a little misty—I did so love Aunt Agatha's eyes.
"Dear," she said, very gently, "I wish this could have been prevented; but, for my husband's sake, I dare not throw cold water on your plan. I cannot deny that he has had a heavy loss, and that we have to be very careful. I would keep you with me if I could, Merle, for you are just like my own child, but Ezra is not young;" and here Aunt Agatha's forehead grew puckered with anxiety.
"Oh, Aunt Agatha," I exclaimed, quite forgetting the gravity of my proposition in sudden, childish annoyance, "how can you call Uncle Keith, Ezra? It is such a hideous name."
"Not to my ears," she answered, quite calmly; "a wife never thinks her husband's name hideous. He loves to hear me say it, and I love to please him, for though you may not believe it, Merle, I think there are very few men to compare with your uncle."
She could actually say this to my face, looking at me all the time with those honest eyes! I could not forbear a little shrug at this, but she turned the subject, placidly, but with much dignity.
"I have been a working bee all my life, and have been quite contented with my lot; if you could only follow my example, I should be perfectly willing to let you go. I have thought once or twice lately that if anything were to happen to me, you and your uncle would hardly be comfortable together; you do not study him sufficiently; you have no idea what he really is."
I thought it better to remain silent.
Aunt Agatha sighed a little as she went on.
"I am not afraid of work for you, Merle, there is no life without activity. 'The idle man,' as someone observes, 'spins on his own axis in the dark.' 'A man of mere capacity undeveloped,' as Emerson says, 'is only an organised daydream with a skin on it.' Just listen to this," opening a book that lay near her. "'Action and enjoyment are contingent upon each other. When we are unfit for work we are always incapable of pleasure; work is the wooing by which happiness is won.'"
"Yes, yes," I returned, rather impatiently, for Aunt Agatha, with all her perfections, was too much given to proverbial and discursive philosophy; "but to reduce this to practice, what work can I do in this weary world?"
"You cannot be a governess, not even a nursery governess, Merle," and here Aunt Agatha looked at me very gently, as though she knew her words must give me pain, and suddenly my cheeks grew hot and my eyelids drooped. Alas! I knew too well what Aunt Agatha meant; this was a sore point, the great difficulty and stumbling block of my young life.
I had been well taught in a good school; I had had unusual advantages, for Aunt Agatha was an accomplished and clever woman, and spared no pains with me in her leisure hours; but by some freak of Nature, not such an unusual thing as people would have us believe, from some want of power in the brain—at least, so a clever man has since told me—I was unable to master more than the rudiments of spelling.
I know some people would laugh incredulously at this, but the fact will remain.
As a child I have lain sobbing on my bed, beaten down by a very anguish of humiliation at being unable to commit the column of double syllables to memory, and have only been comforted by Aunt Agatha's patience and gentleness.
At school I had a severer ordeal. For a long time my teachers refused to admit my incapacity; they preferred attributing it to idleness, stubbornness, and want of attention; even Aunt Agatha was puzzled by it, for I was a quick child in other things, could draw very well for my age, and could accomplish wonders in needlework, was a fair scholar in history and geography, soon acquired a good French accent, and did some of my lessons most creditably.
But the construction of words baffle me to this day. I should be unwilling to write the simplest letter without a dictionary lying snugly near my hand. I have learned to look my misfortune in the face, and to bear it with tolerable grace. With my acquaintances it is a standing joke, with my nearest and dearest friends it is merely an opportunity for kindly service and offers to write from my dictation, but when I was growing into womanhood it was a bitter and most shameful trial to me, one secretly lamented with hot tears and with a most grievous sense of humiliation.
"No," Aunt Agatha repeated, in the old pitying voice I knew so well, "you cannot be even a nursery governess, Merle."
"Nor a companion either," I exclaimed bitterly. "Old ladies want letters written for them."
"That is very true," she replied, shaking her head.
"I could be a nurse in a hospital—in fact, that is what I should like, but the training could not be afforded, it would be a pound a week, Aunt Agatha, and there would be my uniform and other expenses, and I should not get the smallest salary for at least two or three years."
"I am afraid we must not think of that, Merle," and then I relapsed into silence from sheer sadness of heart. I had always so longed to be trained in a hospital, and then I could nurse wounded soldiers or little children. I always loved little children.
But this idea must be given up, and yet it would not have mattered in a hospital if I had spelt "all-right" with one "l." I am quite sure my bandages would have been considered perfect, and that would have been more to the point.
(To be continued.)
THE AMATEUR CHURCH ORGANIST.
BY THE HON. VICTORIA GROSVENOR.
We believe that young people generally have a desire to be useful. Sometimes not an actually formulated desire, but a vague intention which they mean some day shall have a practical issue, when and how they do not quite know, or in what way. It is proposed in this article to point out one means of eminent usefulness—i.e., that of amateur organ playing in our churches. It is scarcely necessary to show what a large field of good useful work is open to amateurs in this direction. We all know that on the one hand parishes wholly agricultural—the other suburban parishes in large towns—are utterly unable to pay for the services of a professional player; while there is nothing so calculated to lift up the heart of the congregations such as these are likely to obtain, as good music. Would it not therefore be a pleasant duty for anyone gifted with musical talent and leisure to qualify in the best manner possible for this ennobling and helpful occupation?
The intending organ-player must ascertain that he or she has a gift for music, and this need not be of the highest order, as even a small portion of the gift can be improved with care, and fostered into usefulness. A first rate ear can be a snare to those who trust to it too much—although it is undoubtedly the best of servants, if kept in its proper sphere of work. A very ordinary measure of talent, supplemented by calm and good sense, clear power of thought, and determined perseverance, will be a good foundation to start with. Good sense and attention have more to do with the good music of ordinary persons (as opposed, we mean, to remarkably clever ones) than people are apt to think. It was said of Mendelssohn that music was the accident of his being; and there are many of whom the same could be said, with this meaning—i.e., that the powers which make them succeed in music would enable them to succeed in other great things if attempted.
We will therefore suppose the case of a young lady possessing a moderate gift for music, desiring to improve it and herself, and to take up organ playing with a view to real usefulness. She should first find out whether her playing on the piano is perfectly correct, taking the easiest possible music to exercise herself upon, and trying whether her musical ear is competent to be her teacher in the matter of correctness. If neither steady attention nor ear enable her to discover mistakes, she had better consider that music is not the talent God has given her to use to His glory. A musical ear may, however, be much improved by its possessor. With even the smallest of voices she should join a choir or madrigal society and learn to sing at sight. She should, when listening to a musical performance, try to guess its key. She should endeavour to know, without seeing, the sound and name of single notes on the piano, practising herself with her eyes shut. It is good practice, also, to take an easy chant or hymn tune, hitherto unknown, and try to get some idea of its melody and harmony without playing it. When all this is done, one of the most important tasks remains: that of mastering time in all its branches. Slovenliness in this particular is fatal to all music, above all to that for the organ, which is meant to guide and control. A feeling for rhythm and a quick-sighted accurate knowledge of time, may be much improved by playing with others, either duets on the piano, or accompaniments to voice or instrument. The player should compel herself to account for the time reason of every passage slowly, until she is able to do so with rapidity and precision at sight. At this point it may be well to begin lessons on the organ, taking great pains to become familiar with the technical part of the instrument, the names of stops and meaning of these names, mechanism and its use. Then will come the careful practice of pedals, which are at first so absolutely bewildering that amateurs are filled with despair at the apparent impossibilities they are asked to face with hope.
Into the teacher's work it is not our province to go; but we would ask the learner to be armed with courage and perseverance, and to practise patiently. Success is more than likely.
We now proceed with advice to one possessed of some knowledge of organ-playing and some acquaintance with its technical capabilities. First, we should say—Play on all available instruments, as no two are alike, and the stops are called by many different names, which must be identified quickly as emergencies arise. Then acquire a knowledge of harmony, specially useful in accompanying church music with dignity, and enabling the player to fill in chords which the vocal score (or voice parts) have left thin and ineffective. Volumes might be written on accompaniments; but on this subject we would advise amateurs to consult heart, head, and common sense, and we would recommend them to read Dr. Bridge's "Organ Accompaniment," one of Novello's music primers, which will open out to them many possibilities, on the use of which they must decide for themselves according to their technical ability and the effect they aim at. It may be they can only try to pull a few weak voices through the singing allotted to them—in which case a strong, steady accompaniment of the simplest description is the best.
One word on voluntaries. These should be chosen with great care and the deepest respect for the church and the instrument, and kept well within the powers of the player. Amateurs do not as a rule obtain much control of their nerves, and the greatest help in the world is given by the knowledge that there is not a "difficult bit" coming. Voluntary books are not quite to be trusted, as their selection often contains operatic music very unfit for organ or church; but they generally contain some pieces of a sacred and dignified character, which may be useful. It is also dangerous for the inexperienced to plunge into easy arrangements of unknown music, taking perhaps wrong views of the time, and sometimes making the more experienced listener smile, if nothing worse, at the curious rendering of some well-known air, jumbled up with its obbligato accompaniment, the existence of which was entirely unknown to the poor player. Every organist should possess a metronome, and carefully ascertain with it the correct time of any music intended for use in public.
Finally, if every small action is to be done to the glory of God, how much more the playing in His church! Let none take this noble work in hand without a desire to give, in its degree, the best work that can be given in absolute self-renunciation, humility, and reverence.
EVERY GIRL A BUSINESS WOMAN.
A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO THE WORLD OF INDUSTRY AND THRIFT.
BY JAMES MASON.
Every girl who is guided by common sense will aim at becoming a business woman. That is to say, she will try to cultivate habits of order, industry, perseverance, method, and punctuality, and will do her best to learn how to conduct formal correspondence, how to keep accounts, how to manage money, and what to do with savings. Besides this, she will make a point of knowing something about the laws relating to domestic life—the renting of houses and the employment of servants, for example—and she will push her inquiries in every direction, so as to acquire not only the right way of doing things, but the right way of forming a judgment upon them.
A wise girl will thus greatly increase her usefulness in the world. She will be able to take part in the affairs of life with pleasure to herself and without being a trouble and hindrance to her neighbours.
Another advantage may be pointed out. There are always people trying to get the better of those who know nothing, and their victims more often than not are ladies. It is easy to fall a prey to rogues and sharpers if one is ignorant of business, especially when nature has made women kind-hearted and experience has not rendered them suspicious. As a protection, there is nothing like being a business woman.
Perhaps someone may say that "business woman" has a hard sound, and stands for a character precise, selfish, and uninteresting. That is not what we intend by it at all. Is a girl to be less loveable, less gentle, less charming, whenever we cease to say of her, That girl, in regard to all the ways of business, is a perfect simpleton? On the contrary, business is a fine training-school for many virtues; and of all good women, a good business woman may be reckoned the very best.
Our articles are intended to be of use to two classes of girls. The first consists of those who either have or are likely to have a little money of their own, and need to know how to manage it and how to regulate those affairs which money always brings in its train. By ignorance of business many a useful life of this class as been marred.
The second is made up of girls who have to earn their own living and make their own way in the world. These have a special need to know something about business. People as a rule are valuable in proportion to their knowledge—those who know nothing being simply worth nothing.
One great reason for the work of girls and women being poorly paid, is that few know anything about either the principles or the practice of the most ordinary business affairs. We shall try in these articles to put girls in future on a better footing, and to make them in business equal, at any rate, to any average men. In this way there is a good chance of doubling their usefulness and value, and of more than doubling their independence.
Nothing is done all at once, and in business, as in everything else, if you mean to build high you must begin low. A girl who wishes to be a business woman must start with accumulating the same sort of knowledge as an office-boy. We shall therefore try to deal with the subject simply and from the very beginning. You may sometimes be tempted to say, "Oh, we knew that before," but another girl may not have been so fortunate, and her ignorance must be taken as our reason for pointing out what appears to be familiar facts.
We begin with the subject of business letters, and the first thing we shall say about them is—Be very particular about their appearance. There is a proverb, to be sure, warning us that appearances are deceitful, but that proverb is only true occasionally; in general we may safely draw an inference as to the writer from the look of her letter. An ill-folded, clumsy, up-and-down-hill, blotted, greasy-looking letter almost certainly comes from an untidy house and a stupid girl, whereas a neat, carefully-written epistle suggests just as surely the opposite.
In friendly letters our correspondents know something about us beforehand, but in business we may be writing to perfect strangers, who can only judge of us by the figure we cut on a sheet of note-paper. To secure prompt attention and a polite reply, no plan works so well as putting good taste into the appearance of letters. They are really a part of ourselves, and a girl should as soon think of sending them marked with carelessness to either a friend or a stranger as of going to make a call in a patched frock, a faded hat, and gloves with holes.
An indispensable point in a business letter is to have the meaning quite clear. It must say exactly what the writer intends, leaving nothing to be guessed at.
And after clearness the next point is shortness. A brief letter makes far more impression than a long one, besides which it usually gets attended to at once. We have known a man open a lady's letter on a matter of business, and, seeing it a long rigmarole, put it at once in his pocket and let it lie there forgotten for a week.
That long letters receive most notice is a mistake into which girls fall very often, but she who aspires to be a real business woman must give herself to the study of such short epistles as that of the officer who sent in as his official report, "Sir,—I have the honour to inform you that I have just shot a man who came to kill me.—Your obedient servant, ——."
All letters should be headed with the address from which they were written, the day of the month, and the year; in this way:—
2, Ireland Avenue, Stratford-on-Avon, 9th October, 1886.
It is an irritating peculiarity with many people unaccustomed to business to be careless on this point. Common sense suggests that they should mend their ways, and by putting the date and a full address on every letter, save their correspondents sometimes a good deal of trouble.
There is a short way, occasionally employed, of writing the date; for example, 4 / 7 / 86; meaning the 4th day of the 7th month (July, that is) of 1886. This contraction—which is improved by having the month put in Roman figures (as, 4 / vii. / 86)—is handy now and again, but it does not strike one as looking particularly well at the head of a letter.
Put the name of the person to whom the letter is written at the beginning or the end. Long ago, when envelopes were not in use, this did not matter so much, because the name of the person addressed could be seen by turning to the postal direction; but nowadays the envelope bearing the address is dropped into the waste-paper basket, and a second address is required to give the letter completeness, and enable third parties, perhaps, to understand it.
As to how to begin, whether "Sir" or "Madam," or "Dear Sir" or "Dear Madam," everyone may please herself, only taking note that the "Dear" should be omitted when any special reason exists for being distant and formal. Not, however, that the word when used in a business letter has anything of an affectionate meaning. It is just one of the drops of oil used to keep the machinery of human intercourse working smoothly. Perhaps it originally crept in to soften the sharp effect of "Sir," which sounds for all the world as if it would snap a correspondent's head off.
"Dear Sir" and "Dear Sirs" are both right, but "Dear Gentlemen" is not, though there seems no reason against it. If you begin "Sir" you must not end "I remain, dear sir." The beginning and the end should be all of a piece, and in both places the same form of address should be used.
In concluding a business letter you may say "yours respectfully," or "your obedient servant," or "yours truly," or "yours faithfully," according to the degree of intimacy existing between you and your correspondent. But really there are no very nice distinctions to be observed between such phrases, and their use may safely be left to every girl's common sense and discretion.
Take pains to sign your name always so that people can read it. Some, out of pure affectation, conceal what they call themselves under a scribble which none can read—"a hopeless puzzle of intemperate scratches." How is a stranger, getting a letter signed in this way, to know to whom to send a reply, unless, as is sometimes done, he cuts out the signature, pastes it on the envelope, and adds the address? But illegible signatures, it must be confessed, are more often a man's folly than a woman's.
Always, too, sign your name the same way: get into the habit of it. Don't let it be to-day "Mary G. Snodham," and to-morrow "Mary Snodham," and the day after "M. G. Snodham." If character comes out anywhere in writing, it is in the signature, and it ought to be every day the same, the same in words, the same in writing, and the same in flourishes—that is to say, if there are any flourishes.
When you send a Post Office order to anyone, however, you may make an exception to this rule. It is a good plan to sign a letter accompanying such an order with initials only. When this is done, should the letter fall into the hands of dishonest people, the chances are considerably reduced of their knowing the name of the sender so as to get payment of the order. In getting the money for a Post Office order it is always necessary, as perhaps you know, to tell at the post-office who sent it.
When you (we shall call you Elizabeth Fisher) are asked to write a letter in the name of another person (call her Janet Constable), how should you sign it? Not, certainly, by just writing Janet Constable; that would be highly improper. To put another person's name to any letter or document whatever, even in fun, is not even to be dreamt about. You must sign—
Yours truly, for JANET CONSTABLE, ELIZABETH FISHER.
Or, if you like it better—
Yours respectfully, JANET CONSTABLE, p. ELIZABETH FISHER.
In this case the p. stands for per, and means that Janet Constable signs the letter by or through you. You may write per in full, if you like.
Sometimes you may have to write inquiring about the character of people or their standing from a money point of view. In doing so, put the name or names on a slip of paper and gum it at the foot of your letter, so that it can be easily torn off. Your correspondent can then at once destroy the slip, and should your letter or her reply afterwards be read by other people, they will probably be none the wiser, for they will only see in your letter an inquiry regarding the person or persons "noted at foot," and in hers an answer about the person or persons "about whom you inquire."
All enclosures sent in a letter should be mentioned in a note in the left-hand bottom corner after signing one's name. Thus:—
Enclosed: Postal Order, 10s. 6d. Recipe for cooking rattlesnakes. Pattern: the Tullochgorum mantle.
We have spoken about the clearness and brevity required in business letters, but to the subject of style a few lines more may be devoted. Business letters are of necessity dry and matter-of-fact, and in writing them no time should be lost in hunting for fine expressions. They should contain politeness, but light and airy sentences are worse than thrown away.
"Accuracy of expression," says Mr. George Seton, in his pleasant "Gossip about Letters and Letter-writers," "as distinguished from looseness and slovenliness of statement, is of the utmost consequence—not only with the view of saving the time of one's correspondent, but also to prevent what may prove a very serious misunderstanding. I have known many cases of prolonged litigation which were chiefly owing to some doubtful or equivocal expressions in the course of a business correspondence."
There are many phrases peculiar to business letters—formal beginnings, for example, such as—
"I am favoured with yours of 14th curt."
"I duly received your favour of 19th inst."
"I am in receipt of your lines of y'day, and note that, &c."
"I beg to confirm my last respects of 25th ult."
"I beg to confirm my letter of yesterday."
These phrases and many others which will appear in the course of these articles may seem formal enough, but we must not expect in business to meet with the language of story-books.
A common business term is "advice," used to mean information sent by letter. For example: "I wait your advice as to the despatch of the parcel." A funny misunderstanding of the word occurred recently, when a provincial postmaster, new to his duties, in the United States, sent the following communication to the Postmaster-General:—
"Seeing by the regulations that I am required to send you a letter of advice, I must plead in excuse that I have been postmaster but a short time; but I will say, if your office pays no better than mine, I advise you to give it up."
Every subject mentioned in a letter should have a separate paragraph. Very formal, you may say. Perhaps; but it is also very clear.
Always acknowledge receipt of business letters at the earliest possible opportunity. If they come with money, an acknowledgment ought to be sent by return of post, that is to say, by the first post after they arrive. The same rule may safely be applied to letters coming with any enclosure whatever. Sometimes delay may be of no consequence, but to answer at once will at any rate get you the credit of courtesy.
Of all business letters a copy should be kept. If you write few they may be copied by hand into a book kept for the purpose, but if many the use of a copying-press saves a great deal of monotonous labour, and secures absolute accuracy besides.
The way to use a copying-press is this. Write the letter with copying-ink. Then put a sheet of oiled paper under the leaf of the letter-book on which you wish to take the copy. Letter-books of thin paper are sold for the purpose. Wet the leaf with a brush or soft sponge. On the top of the wet leaf put a sheet of blotting paper, and on the top of that another sheet of oiled paper. Then shut the book, put it in the press, and give it a squeeze for a second to take off the superfluous moisture. Take out the book, remove the blotting-paper and the top sheet of oiled paper, and in their place put your letter face downwards on the damp page. Shut the book, put it back into the copying-press, give it a hard squeeze by means of the lever or screw, leave it in from half a minute to a minute, and the whole thing is done; an exact copy of the letter will be left in your letter-book.
A letter being written and copied, has to be posted; but before being posted it must be addressed. The address should be written neatly and plainly, neither too high up nor too low down.
To say, Be sure to put the direction on your letters is not unnecessary advice. Thousands of letters are posted every year without any address whatever. In the year ending 31st March, 1886, there were no fewer than 26,228 of them, and of this large number 1,620 contained cash and cheques to the amount, in all, of L3,733 17s. 5d.
Be sure, too, that your letters are properly fastened. On this subject, hear Mr. George Seton. "There is," he says, "no real security in wafers, and probably still less in adhesive envelopes, which are now in almost universal use. Both may easily be loosened by the application of either water or steam. The best mode of securing a letter is first to wafer it and then seal it with wax. When, however, an adhesive envelope is used, the proper course is to damp, rather than wet, both sides of the flap before pressing it down; and if the paper is very thick, the upper side should be again damped after being pressed down."
Insufficient and wrong addresses occasion a great deal of trouble to the Post Office officials, and this trouble one of the present Postmaster-General's predecessors remarks, with some pathos, "ought scarcely to be given to make up for what generally arises from the carelessness of the writers, without an additional charge." Last year, through some fault in the addresses, no fewer than 12,822,067 letters, postcards, newspapers, and parcels were received in the returned letter offices.
As an example of an insufficiently-addressed letter, we may mention one the subject of a complaint made by a Mrs. Jones of Newmarket. She stated that a letter had been posted to her, but had not reached her. It appeared, however, on inquiry, that there were twenty-nine Mrs. Joneses at the place, and that there was nothing in the address to help the postman to decide between their several claims.
When money or anything of value is sent through the post, the letter in which it goes should be registered. By this means we can be almost absolutely sure of its travelling safely. The fee for a registered letter was at one time half-a-crown, and not so long ago was a shilling. In 1878 it was reduced from 4d. to 2d. Not only has the fee been reduced to what may be thought the lowest possible point, but registered letter envelopes are now sold in different and convenient sizes. The Post Office also undertakes to make good, under certain reasonable conditions, up to L2 the value of any registered letter which it loses.
If people who have these facilities for sending letters securely provided for them choose to run the risk of loss, they deserve very little sympathy if the chance goes against them. Last year an unregistered letter containing a cheque was alleged to have been stolen in the post. It was found, however, to have been duly delivered by being pushed under the front door, and afterwards to have been torn in pieces by some puppies inside the house. The fragments were in the end discovered in the straw of the dog-kennel. Now, had the sender only spent 2d. in registering this letter, a receipt would have been taken on its delivery, and all chance of its falling into the paws of the puppies would have been prevented.
But it is wonderful what people, penny-wise and pound foolish, will sometimes do to save 2d. A few years back the sealing-wax on a letter was found to contain L1 10s. in gold coins. There could hardly be a more stupid way of sending money.
If coin, or watches, or jewellery are posted in letters or packets without registration, and the fact is discovered, the Post Office people bring into force a system of registration by compulsion, and on delivery charge a fee of 8d. in addition to the ordinary postage.
When coins are sent in a letter they should on no account be put in loose, but should be packed so as to move about as little as possible. The best way is to take a card, and, cutting quite through to the other side, make a cross on it for each coin; then slip the coin into the cross, so that it is held in its place by the tongues of cardboard, two on each side.
Who owns letters whilst they are in the post? In Great Britain the ownership of a letter whilst it is in the post lies in the Queen, as represented by her Postmaster-General and her Secretary of State. "Neither the sender nor the person to whom it is sent can claim to interfere with a letter whilst it is in the Post Office. Only the warrant of a Secretary of State can stay its delivery." Once a letter is dropped into a letter-box it is like a spoken word, it cannot be recalled.
After letters come postcards, which were introduced into this country in October, 1870, and have proved a great convenience to many people, saving them both time and money. By means of reply postcards you can make sure of an answer from a correspondent without putting her to any expense or to any trouble worth mentioning.
The back of the postcard is for the message; nothing must be put on the front except the address. This limitation of space is useful for the cultivation of brevity; but those who have a great deal to say may derive consolation from the fact that on the back of a postcard you can, by writing small, easily put at least four hundred and sixty words! We do not, however, say that such a performance, good enough for amusement, would be like that of a woman of business.
All business letters ought to be preserved. They should be folded neatly longways and all of a size, and docketed, as it is called—that is to say, the date and the name of the sender and his (or her) address, and the subject, should be put on the back thus:
6th September, 1886. MARTIN ROSE AND CO., Liverpool. Remittance, L10 19s. 2d.
Do not, however, crowd these particulars together, as has been done here for convenience in printing; leave a considerable space between the first and second, and the third and fourth lines. When letters are folded and docketed they should be tied up in the order of their dates, or put away in pigeon holes under the different letters of the alphabet. One can never tell when it may be necessary to refer to old letters on matters of business, so it is prudent to keep them all. Doing so and turning them over occasionally is also useful for giving us a humble opinion of ourselves; we see by the light of additional experience how we might often have managed things much better than we did.
Besides letters and postcards, telegrams furnish another means of communication. For a telegram sent to any place in the United Kingdom, the charge is sixpence for the first twelve words, and a halfpenny for every word after the first twelve. Addresses are charged for, so a sixpennyworth of telegraphing does not represent a long message, but by ingenuity—and a business woman is nothing without ingenuity—a few words may be made to mean a great deal. The cost of a reply to a telegram may be prepaid.
About the newspaper post, the book post, and the parcel post, not much need be said. Always be careful about wrappers. A great many newspapers and books escape from their wrappers every day, and land in the returned letter office. In sending parcels the packing is often a weak point; it is not so much that people are either handless or stupid, they are just thoughtless. "It must be borne in mind," says the Postmaster-General, "although, of course, every care will be taken by the officers, that a parcel with fragile or perishable contents must be several times handled before it reaches its destination, and will probably have to be packed with many others of a different kind and shape, or more weighty and bulky. Eggs, butter, and fruit, especially delicate fruit, such as grapes and peaches, should be placed in strong boxes and so placed as not to shift. Fresh flowers should be carefully packed in strong boxes; but cardboard boxes should not be used for the purpose, as they are often reduced to pulp by the moisture which exudes from the contents. Fish or game should be carefully packed in strong boxes, or hampers, or in perforated boxes."
Remember that some things are forbidden to be sent by post—live animals, for instance. This prohibition is very little regarded by some people. Last year, in Dublin alone, two hens, eight mice, and two hedgehogs were stopped on their way through the post. One of the hens which was addressed to a veterinary surgeon in London, was in bad health, and though carefully attended to, died in the office. The rest of the animals were given up alive to the senders.
Certificates of the posting of parcels can be got at all post offices. If you have any doubt about the trustworthiness of the person entrusted with the posting of a parcel, instructions should be given to bring back a receipt. A few months ago the Post Office was charged at Liverpool with the non-delivery of a bottle of wine and a box of figs. It turned out, however, that the missing goods had never come under its charge, the person to whom the packet had been given to post having eaten the figs and drunk the wine.
Parcels can also be insured against loss and damage by the payment of a small sum. Paying a penny insures to the extent of L5 and twopence to the amount of L10.
In order to understand the outs and ins of the Post Office—and it is a subject with which every sensible person should be familiar—let a girl invest sixpence in a copy of the Post Office Guide, a publication of which an edition is issued every quarter. She will there find everything necessary to be known about the posting of letters, postcards, newspapers, book packets, and parcels to places in the United Kingdom, or abroad, the sending of telegrams, the rates for money and postal orders, and the regulations of the Savings Bank. To turn over its 300 pages or so is decidedly interesting. One sees what a complicated machinery is now employed for the convenience of the public, what wonders—to speak of letters alone—can be done for a penny, and how thousands of miles can be reduced to insignificance by the magic of twopence-halfpenny.
In the twelve months from the 31st of March, 1885, to the same day of this year, the number of letters delivered in the United Kingdom was 1,403,547,900, giving an average of 38.6 to each person in the kingdom. The total number of postcards was 171,290,000. Adding to the letters and postcards the book-packets, newspapers, and parcels which passed through the Post Office during the twelve months, we have a grand total of 2,091,183,822, which shows an average to each person of 57.5.
THE "WOMAN OF STENAY."
"And so you have not heard the story of the 'Woman of Stenay'?" said a Lorraine peasant. "It was in war-time, and she offered a barrel of wine to a detachment of Austrians, saying—
"'You are thirsty, friends. Drink. You are welcome to all my store.' And as she spoke she drank a cupful in their honour.
"The soldiers accepted with pleasure, and in a few minutes four hundred men were writhing on the ground in agony.
"Then the 'Woman of Stenay' rose, and with her dying breath shrieked out—
"'You are all poisoned! Vive la France!'
"She then fell back a corpse."
This is the legend of Lorraine, and the memory of its heroine is revered by the peasantry as highly as that of Charlotte Corday.
Tusser, in his "Points of Huswifry united to the Comforts of Husbandry," published in 1570, recommends the country housewife to select servants who sing at their work as being usually the most painstaking and the best. He says—
"Such servants are oftenest painful and good That sing in their labour, as birds in the wood."
A HINT FOR WORKERS.—St. Bernard has said that the more he prayed and read his Bible the better he did his ordinary work and the more clearly and regularly did he conduct his correspondence. An increase of private devotion will be found not to lessen one's power of work or one's efficiency in ordinary duties.
OUR OWN SELVES.—How can you learn self-knowledge? Never by meditation, but best by action. Try to do your duty, and you will soon find what you are worth. What is your duty? The exigency of the day.—Goethe.
USELESS ANXIETY.—I shall add to my list as the eighth deadly sin that of anxiety of mind, and resolve not to be pining and miserable when I ought to be grateful and happy.—Sir Thomas Barnard.
THE MOONLIGHT SONATA.—The "Moonlight Sonata" is an absurd title which has for years been attached, both in Germany and England, to one of Beethoven's sonatas. It is said to have been derived from the expression of a German critic comparing the first movement to a boat wandering by moonlight on the Lake of Lucerne.
THE SHEPHERD'S FAIRY
BY DARLEY DALE, Author of "Fair Katherine," etc.
THE FAIRY'S ORIGIN.
"Die Eifersucht ist eine Leidenschaft der mit Eifer sucht muss Leiden schaffen."—German Proverb.
Very many years ago, in a valley a few miles from the coast, there stood a French chateau, beautifully situated in a handsome park near the Norman village of Carolles. The rich woodland scenery, the green pastures with their large wild fences now laden with wild roses; the shady lanes, whose banks will soon be covered with the long, bright green fronds of the hartstongue, and the delicate drooping trichomanes; the fine timber, and the picturesque farmhouses with their thatched roofs nestling in the valleys—all tend to give a home-like English air to the scenery of Normandy. And the district in which the Chateau de Thorens stands possesses all these attractions for an English eye. Not that any English people lived in the chateau; the De Thorens were French, or rather Norman, to the backbone, descended from the great duke, and proud as Lucifer of their birth. Pride and poverty are generally supposed to go together; and though poor is perhaps hardly the word to apply to people who could afford to live in the ease and luxury which prevailed at Chateau de Thorens, yet for their rank the De Thorens were not rich, and, consequently, after the fashion of many French families, there were three generations of them now all living under the ancestral roof.
First there was the old baroness, a picturesque old lady with very white hair and piercing black eyes, with whom we have very little to do; then there was her eldest son, the present baron, for his father had been dead some years, and his beautiful young wife, whom he was so passionately fond of that he was jealous—dreadfully jealous—of her love for her baby, a little girl a few months old; and, lastly, there were the baron's three younger brothers, who with Pere Yvon, the chaplain, made up the family party. The two younger brothers were mere boys, still under Pere Yvon's charge, for he acted as tutor to them as well as chaplain; but Leon de Thorens was a young man of five-and-twenty, only a year or two younger than the baron. He was a fine, handsome man, tall and thin, with his mother's fine black eyes and small well-cut nose and mouth. He was of a bold, reckless nature, full of animal spirits, the very life of the house when he was at home, which was seldom, as he owned a yacht, in which he spent a great deal of his time. He was his mother's favourite son, and both he and she had often privately regretted that he was not the eldest.
The baron was smaller and fairer than Leon, and not so handsome, though there was a strong family likeness between the brothers. He was of a quieter disposition, and his restlessness took an intellectual rather than a physical form, his wanderings being confined to the shelves of the valuable library which the chateau boasted, instead of extending over the seas on which Leon spent so much of his time. The baron's studious nature had endeared him very much to Pere Yvon, with whom he was a prime favourite, and who had never shown him any of the severity of which the other brothers often complained, but, on the contrary, had erred on the opposite side with the baron, whose wishes had never been crossed in any way, and who had grown up to think himself the one important person in the world to whom the convenience of everyone else must be sacrificed.
For the first year of their married life the pretty baroness had contributed as much as Pere Yvon to spoil her husband, whose every whim she had humoured until her baby was born, and then, much to his astonishment, the baron found that his beautiful, gentle wife had a will of her own, and, what was still worse in his eyes, a large place in her heart for someone else besides himself, and although that someone else was only his infant daughter, the baron was jealous.
In vain had he urged that the baby should be sent away to some peasant to nurse until it was a year or two old, as he and all his brothers had been, after a very common custom in French families. No, the baroness would not hear of such a thing; she could not live without her baby, and every moment she could spare she spent by its cradle. Indeed, so infatuated was she with her new possession, whose every movement was a delight to her, that she did not notice the baron became daily more and more morose, and that an ominous frown had settled on his fine forehead, while his mouth was closed with a determination that boded ill for his wife and daughter. But the baroness lived so much in her child that she did not observe the change in her husband; and as he never allowed the baby to be brought into his presence, the baroness saw but little of him except at meals, when all the others were present, and Leon's wild spirits covered his brother's depression and silence.
At last, one fine June morning, matters reached a climax, when the family sat down to their one o'clock dejeuner. The baroness was late; the first course was finished, and still she did not appear.
"Where is Mathilde, Arnaut?" asked the old baroness.
"I don't know," said the baron, sulkily.
"I do," said Leon; "she is worshipping at the shrine of that precious baby of yours, Arnaut. Why on earth don't you send it away till it is old enough to amuse us?"
"Go and tell Madame la Baronne the soup is already finished," said the baron to a servant at his elbow; but he vouchsafed no further answer.
"I think Arnaut has suggested that the baby should be sent away, but Mathilde objects," remarked the old baroness.
"Send it away without asking her, then. Give her a pug instead; it will be much more amusing, and not half the trouble the baby is," said Leon.
Here the servant returned to say madame would take her dejeuner in the nursery, as the nurse was out and she could not leave the baby.
"Really, Mathilde is too absurd, when there are at least three or four other servants in the house who could look after the baby as well as the nurse," said the old baroness, helping herself to some omelette.
"She is mad," muttered the baron, angrily.
"Quite, all women are; there can be no doubt about that. Look here, Arnaut, it is quite clear if you don't send that infant away, you might just as well live en garcon, like me, as I foresee you won't have much of Mathilde's society now," said Leon.
"It does not require much foresight to predict that," said the baron, bitterly.
"Well, if Mathilde won't send it away, just hand it over to me the next time I take a cruise, which will be as soon as ever there is wind enough to fill my sails, and I'll place the child somewhere where there is no fear of Mathilde getting it again till it is of a reasonable age," said Leon.
The idea of handing the baby over to the tender mercies of Leon struck them all as so comic that a general laugh, in which all but the baron joined, greeted this speech, which was forgotten as soon as it was uttered by the speaker.
A few days after Leon announced that he was going on board his yacht that evening; a south wind was blowing, and he should take a cruise up the Channel. Would the baron go with him? They were sure to have fine weather, and it would be delightful at sea in this heat. The baron declined the invitation, as he was a wretched sailor; but that evening, when he and Leon were smoking after dinner, he said, suddenly, "Where are you going, Leon?"
"I don't know; it depends on the wind. I may run over to England, or I may only go to the Channel Isles. I shall see."
"Shall you touch anywhere?"
"Oh, yes, I shall go ashore; I shan't take provisions for more than a week. Why?"
The baron looked round the verandah in which they were sitting to make sure that they were alone, and having satisfied himself of this he leant forward and said, in a half-whisper, "Tiens, Leon! Will you help me? I am determined to stand it no longer; it is wearing my life out; I have not a moment's peace. If I don't get rid of it I believe I shall go mad."
"What is it you are talking of? I'll help you if I can, but what is wearing your life out?" said Leon.
"The baby, of course," said the baron.
"The baby! Well, but what do you want me to do with that! I can't kill it, you know."
"Of course not, but you said in joke the other day you would take it with you on one of your trips, and put it out to nurse. I wish to heaven, Leon, you'd do it in reality. It is no use my sending it to anyone near here; Mathilde would go after it the next day. My only chance is to send it somewhere where it will be safe, of course, and well looked after, but where Mathilde can't go after it, and as she would go to the end of the world for it if she knew where it was, it must go where she can't find it; she must not know where it is. No one, indeed, need know but you, for as far as I am concerned the less I know about it at present the better; it has spoilt all my happiness. Mathilde is so wrapped up in that child she does not care a fig for me now; in fact, I rarely see her. If you can only put that infant safely out of our way for a year or two, I'll never forget it, Leon."
"Are you in real sober earnest, Arnaut?" asked Leon, who, in his astonishment, had risen to his feet, and was puffing away vigorously at his cigar.
"Of course I am. I am willing to pay handsomely for it, and I shall depend upon you putting it where it will be well taken care of. As for all the rest, I leave it to you to take it where you like—Australia if you wish, only don't tell me where it is, or I might cut my own throat by telling Mathilde if she makes a great scene, as she will when it is gone. Will you do it, Leon?"
"Whew!" whistled Leon. "I don't care for the work, for if anything should happen to the child Mathilde would never forgive me nor you either. However, if you insist, I think I could manage it, but as I am going to start in two or three hours, there is not much time. I must go down to the yacht and speak to my men first. If I may tell them I am taking the child by your express wish I could manage it, I think. The next difficulty is where to take it, but I have an idea about that, so I'll be off now, and see what I can arrange. I shall ride, so I shall be back in an hour."
"Tell them anything you like, except not to let anyone know where you leave the child," replied the baron, as Leon started on an errand which, in spite of his protest to the contrary, was thoroughly after his own heart; indeed, any mad freak such as this was quite in his line.
Among his crew he had an English sailor who acted as carpenter, and, as Leon often said, was worth two or three French sailors in a gale or an emergency. He knew the Channel, too, as well as a pilot, and, indeed often acted in that capacity; he was an honest, trustworthy man—at least, so Leon thought; and as he rode over the hills to Carolles, he decided to take this man into his confidence, and see if he could help him; it was possible this Englishman knew of some of his own countrywomen who would undertake the charge of the child.
Accordingly, when he reached his yacht, Leon called for John Smith, and had a long conversation with him in English, which he spoke fairly well, the result of which was the carpenter, after a little thought, declared he knew of a shepherd and his wife in Sussex who, he felt sure, would undertake the charge of the child; his only fear was that they might have some scruples about keeping the matter a secret, and might want to know who the child was; but if Leon would leave this to him to arrange, he could, he thought, manage it so that the shepherd should have no idea to whom the child belonged, nor why it was put into his care.
"Where does this good man live?" asked Leon.
"About four or five miles from Brighton, sir. The wind is favourable; we might run across in twenty-four hours or less if it lasts, and I think it will; we shall have the tide with us going out if we start at ten to-night," said the carpenter.
"Well, that is settled. Now the next point is, who is to take care of it on board? It must be fed; who of our men understands babies best?"
"I can't undertake that, sir, but there's Pierre Legros, he has half a dozen of his own, and when he is at home looks after them all I believe; he ought to know all about it."
"Call Pierre, then."
Pierre Legros was accordingly called, and, on hearing what was required of him, professed with pride his ability to act as nurse during the voyage; and having commissioned him to lay in a stock of food for the baby, about which Leon's ideas were exceedingly vague, Leon rode back to the chateau.
The baron was on the lookout for him, and was delighted to hear all was arranged for the baby's removal.
"I have not been idle since you have been gone. Luckily Mathilde has a headache, so I have sent her to bed, and I sat with her till she was asleep. My next care was to get rid of the nurse, so I have packed her off to Brecy with one of the other servants for some medicine for Mathilde, and the coast is clear to the nursery now. There is only one of the housemaids with the baby, and when you are ready to start you must lose something and require her to find it while I secure the child. Lastly, I ordered the dogcart, and said I would drive you."
"But how about the child?" interrupted Leon.
"I am coming to that. Just as we are going to start, you must lose a stick or a coat. I'll offer to go back for it, and meet you at the side door; there is a staircase leading to the nursery close to it, down which I shall come with the baby after I have sent the housemaid who is guarding it to look for your stick. We shall be off and the baby on board before it is missed, for the girl is sure to stay gossiping with the other servants when we are off."
"Well, I hope you'll succeed, but I confess I think this is the most difficult part of the affair. However, there is no time to lose; you had better order the dogcart at once, while I go and say good-bye to mother and the boys. We must be off in twenty minutes," replied Leon.
Half an hour later the brothers were seated in the dogcart, while the old baroness, with a shawl thrown round her head, stood on the steps under the portico to catch the last glimpse of her handsome Leon, with her two younger boys by her side, and Pere Yvon and some of the servants in the background. The groom had just let go of the horse's bridle when Leon exclaimed—
"Wait a minute! I have forgotten my Malacca cane. I lent it to you the other day, Arnaut. I must have it. Where shall I find it?"
"So you did. Here, one of you boys, run into my—but no, you'll wake Mathilde, I'll go myself. Here, Leon, take the reins, and drive round to the side door; I'll meet you there," said the baron, descending from the dogcart, and running into the house.
(To be continued.)
The fancy embroidery of the present day is of such varied character and make that all would-be workers will find among the diversities of stitch and material some description that suits their particular need and ingenuity.
A few years ago one embroidery alone claimed attention. This was the celebrated crewel work, of which there is no fault to be found in the execution and design of its higher grades, but which, like all fancy work that becomes the rage and is cheapened and multiplied without any regard to reason, degenerated to the most impossible designs and the worst execution attainable. Thus crewel work passed away, and though the best kinds are still to be met with, it is really superseded in modern drawing-rooms by embroideries all originating in the present desire after Oriental colouring and design, but of kinds distinctly characteristic and individual.
The work known as Leek embroidery recommends itself in many ways, it being very reasonable in price, easily executed, and extremely rich and handsome when finished. The foundation is Tussore silk, specially made with the pattern to be embroidered upon it printed upon the foundation, during its manufacture, and therefore indelible. The colouring of the foundation is either cream, straw, pink, blue, green, or terra-cotta, and the pattern is not printed in outline only, but filled up with indications guiding the arrangement for the centres of flowers, veins of leaves, and other distinguishing marks. To work the embroidery it is necessary to line the Tussore with fine unbleached muslin, and to work with Tussore silk and Japanese gold thread. The Tussore silk costs 1d. the skein, and is dyed in every shade of Oriental colouring. Three to four shades of a colour are used to work in a flower, and two shades of green for the leaves. The stitch is crewel-stitch worked very close. No shading about each leaf is necessary, but different greens are used for different leaves, and thus a variety of colouring is attained without trouble. Every part of the pattern, the bordering included, is worked, and only the foundation left, showing where it forms the background to the design. The gold thread is laid on as the finishing touch. It is placed round all the chief parts of the design, and sewn on as an edging with a couching stitch; that is to say, the gold thread is held tightly stretched in its position with the left hand, while a stitch brought from the back of the material is passed over it and put down to the back again with the right hand. Lines of gold are used to mark out the border pattern, and are fastened down with the couching stitch. When sewing on the gold it is very important to keep it tightly stretched, as if put on loosely it is not effective. If the work is at all puckered, iron it with a warm but not hot iron on the wrong side before laying down the gold thread. Leek embroidery is sold by the yard in strips, varying from one inch to twelve inches in width, and costing from 6d. to 2s. the yard. These strips are used for mantelpiece borders, table borders, chair backs, and curtain bands, according to their width. They look best mounted upon plush or velveteen, but are often mounted upon Liberty's Oriental silks, or made up as perfectly plain bands. When used for chair backs or for hanging firescreens the background should be handsome, and either ruby or dark blue in colour, and the work arranged either straight down its centre or crossing it in a number of diagonal lines. This manner of making up is newer and more effective than merely laying it on as an edging. Bands of unmounted Leek embroidery, simply lined with twill, are much used for looping up summer curtains, and give richness to the soft, creamy materials now employed for curtains.
As dress trimmings Leek embroidery is good, the wide bands making a waistcoat front and the narrow the cuff trimmings. To a velveteen winter dress a waistcoat and cuffs so made are an admirable finish as long as the embroidery is kept subdued by rich colours, and the gold carefully put on, while for dinner dresses a broad panel of embroidery is carried down the skirt, and the waistcoat cut low, and no trimming required for the sleeves.
Oriental embroidery cannot be made up in so many different ways as Leek embroidery, but it is quite new, and aims at reproducing early Eastern designs. The foundation material is surah silk, the silk sold in large squares as Liberty's handkerchief being correct in colouring and texture. Upon this foundation the patterns, which all consist of single petalled flowers resembling single dahlias, sunflowers, or chrysanthemums, are worked with Oriental silk, which are silks of a thick make, but very soft and with a gloss on them similar to the gloss on floss silk. The leaves surrounding the flowers are of the shape of the jessamine, and to these are added tendrils and queer-looking bunches of seed-vessels.
There is little variety in the design, as the embroidery is entirely executed in one stitch (that of a close herringbone), but there is great variety and great scope for good shading in the colouring. Oriental silks are all dyed in the shades of blues, yellow pinks, terra-cotta reds, and brilliant yellows, to be seen in Eastern embroideries worked before the introduction of aniline dyes, and the consequent lapse into Imperial purples and magentas and royal blues.
By a judicious use of good colours the same design can be so repeated as to look entirely different. Thus, a spray of flowers worked upon an orange-red ground, with cream, yellow, pink and pale blue colours, will be quite distinct from the same spray laid upon sea-green silk, and coloured with deep orange-reds and blues running from sky into navy blue.
As before mentioned, the only stitch used is herringboning, and the only flowers single petalled ones; but the herringboning is done so closely together that it looks like an interwoven stitch of double crossings, and the flowers are all worked in their centres in a different silk to that used on their tips, and therefore resemble double petalled flowers. The tips of each petal are wider than the commencement, and the herringboning is not taken along as a wide line of equal width, but as a curved line running small, and widening out again several times if the petal or seed-vessel is a long one. Each petal is worked separately, and the silk is never dragged or drawn tightly, but is allowed to lie easily over the foundation, and rather loosely, although the stitches follow each other so closely that nothing of the foundation can be seen where they are laid. The stems, long leaves, and large branches are worked as closely as the petals in herringbone, but tendrils and sprays are more opened out, and are given the look of single coral stitch as a variety.
When shading a flower select two colours that are distinct in tone but not jarring in their contrast; thus, cream-white used for the outer petals can be finished with pale blue, yellow pink, pure orange, or pale yellow for its centre petals; scarlet red outside petals with black inner petals, bright blue outside petals with lemon yellow or terra-cotta red inside petals, and every one of these colours are allowable when working bunches of flowers scattered over the whole of a five o'clock tea-cloth or fireplace curtains.
The embroidery is used for table-cloths, mantel borders, and curtain brackets, knitting bags, handkerchief cases, and as a trimming to evening dresses. In all cases it requires a silk lining, and should be worked with a muslin lining beneath it. Embroidering Breton handkerchiefs is not a new description of fancy work, but it is still in vogue; and when a lady has had sufficient patience to successfully accomplish the feat of covering every portion of the handkerchief with thick filoselle work, there is no doubt that she has produced a piece of embroidery not only handsome and durable, but that will justly hand her name down to posterity as a real worker, and not one who takes up the whim of the hour and throws it on one side as soon as it bores her. The squares made of these embroidered handkerchiefs are shown more effectually when they are lined with quilted silk and used as banner-screens than when they are bordered with wide plush and used as table-cloths. The pattern in the latter case is never seen as a whole, and the beauty of the work is often marred by water from flower vases spilt over it, or wet teacups and saucers put down on it. The small screens now so fashionable make another admirable place for mounting Breton work. These screens are made of two compartments only, in height about 41/2 feet. To each panel, 21/2 feet from the ground, a ledge that can be put up or down is fixed, and that is used for holding a book or a teacup. The panel below this ledge is merely filled with a little curtain made of coloured Oriental silk, and arranged in very full folds. The panel above the ledge, that is fully displayed to every eye, is filled with the embroidery stretched quite tightly across it and displayed to its full advantage. The back of the embroidery is concealed with a satin or silk matching the little curtain beneath. Two Breton handkerchiefs are required, one for each division, but they should not be selected both of the same design. The little screens are made of oak, mahogany, and ebonised wood. They are a simple framework, an inch and a half square, and any working carpenter would make them to order.
Breton embroidery is too laborious for many people, and those whose time is much occupied with household matters, and who cannot devote much of it to the task of making their drawing-rooms pretty, we recommend to try crazy patchwork in its place. We have lately seen this easy work carried out most successfully, and used as mantel and table borders, covers for footstools, and as the centres of small table-cloths. The work is one of the least expensive that can be tried, and can be put down without derangement of effect at any moment (a great point in its favour where interruptions are frequent). Before commencing any piece of it, it is better to accumulate all the oddments of ribbons, plush, velvet, silk, and satin lying in the piece-drawer from dress trimmings or sent as patterns from shops. The more plush and velvet obtainable, the greater the effect produced, while the colouring should be of a vivid tone, but excluding the bright aniline dyes already once referred to as being unsuitable to blend with other shades. A strong piece of ticking is required for the foundation, and on this the pieces are arranged. They should be pinned on while the amalgamation of colouring is being tried, and, when that is settled, basted on to the lining, the edges of soft materials being turned under and secured with the basting lines. Similarity in shape and size is to be avoided when placing the pieces, and the effect aimed at that of the colouring of a kaleidoscope in its variety and brightness. In order to obtain queer shapes and corners, it is not necessary to carefully cut them out and fit them into their various spaces; in fact, it is better not to do so, but to lay one material partly over another, and by so doing make the desired form. The embroidery is generally left until the pieces are basted down to the lining, but now and again the scraps should be embroidered before they are fixed down, this method being the least troublesome when fine silk work is attempted, such as working flowers in shades of colour or intricate designs, or following out the lines of stamped velvet or brocade with couched-down cords and gold thread. Thin Oriental silks require a thin muslin lining underneath them, and the embroidery executed before they are tacked to the ticking, as unless this precaution is taken they are apt to pucker and look uneven and poor. When the patchwork scraps are all arranged, spare strands of filoselle of any shades are used to cover over the basting threads with lines of coral stitch, feather, chain, rope, and herringbone, while oddments of silk cord, Japanese gold thread, very fine braids, etc., are sewn down either as borderings to the securing lines or as forming designs and figures on the patches themselves. Embroidery stitches of all kinds are used to fill in the centres of the patches, and advantage is always taken of any pattern on the patches either by filling it in entirely with shaded silks, filling up its background with stars, crosses, or dots, or by enclosing it within diagonal lines, or sewing spangles down so as to cover it over. Every effort is made to enrich the patches by the use of gold thread, spangles, gold lace, and silk cords, and when the work is faithfully done, no one could guess it was devised out of oddments and produced at a nominal cost.
B. C. SAWARD.
FOR VIOLIN AND PIANOFORTE.
PROFESSOR SIR G. A. MACFARREN.
ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS.
A. Z.—The part of a whole made by two-thirds of three-fourths is one-half. Such books as those you name are not so appropriate for young girls as very desirable, instructive, as well as interesting books, although a girl of twenty-one might read one of such a kind once in a way. There is an article by Dr. Green in the last two numbers of the Leisure Hour (published by the Religious Tract Society, 56, Paternoster-row, London, E.C.), those for April and May, in which such books as you require are recommended—history, biography, travels, archaeology, geology, astronomy; Shakespeare, Milton, Elizabeth Barret Browning, Longfellow, Tennyson, etc. Such books should occupy all your leisure for reading, besides the study of household economy, nursing, cookery, needlework, and cutting out. The first five years after leaving the school-room should be devoted to such studies as these, not wasted on the class of literature you specify.
G. H. T.—Yes, there is a Kindergarten College and Practising School established by the British and Foreign School Society. It is at 21, Stockwell-road, S.W., and it is directed by the Misses Crombie. There are ten such schools in London and eight in the provinces. Write for papers, and all information will be supplied you direct from that or any of the other schools. Had you given your address we could have given that which is the nearest to you. We think your age would be suitable. The answer you receive as to terms may decide you as to the way in which your L20 may be required. Perhaps if you annoyed your cousin she would not allow you to return home to sleep. Whether you could do so as well as board at the college we could not say. "Look well before you leap."
SHELTIE.—To ornament ginger jars, or any kind of earthenware, without knowing how to draw or paint, first size it with ordinary glue-size, melted over the fire; then cut bright scraps of chintz, or gaily-painted cottons, into diamonds, squares, half-circles, triangles, etc., and paste them to the jars, carefully covering every part of the jar with the scraps laid closely together, but without making any set design. Let the paste dry; then size the jar, and varnish with white hard varnish.
FLEUR DES ALPES.—We fear there are no chances of a sale in London, as the market for screen and fan painting is already so full. Besides, you should take such work personally to shops and obtain trade orders. Would it not be wiser and more easy to dispose of them at Geneva, which is within your reach? Accept our best wishes.
WOULD-BE PHOTOGRAPHER.—The reason that the object to be taken appears upside down in the camera is this. Light travels in straight lines, and rays coming through little crevices (such as are used in cameras), cross each other, and become inverted.
EFFIE.—The texts of Holy Scripture which you cannot find are to be found as follows:—Psalm xciv. 22, and Gen. xvii. 8; Exodus xxix. 45; Ezekiel xi. 20; Zechariah viii. 8; 2 Cor. vi. 16; Rev. xxi. 3, and in other places. Your "Concordance" must be a very bad one. Your handwriting is not formed, but promises well.
GOWAN COBBAN.—We do not recommend publishers to our correspondents. All three specimens of writing are legible, but No. 2 is careless and unfinished. Why write a small "b" for a "v"? The latter has no tall upper stroke.
E. M.—The health of bride, bridegroom, bridesmaids, and respective parents of the newly-married pair is drunk, but no others, as a rule.
CORISANDE.—We could not possibly assist you in carrying out or devising a method of revenge on the wrong-doer, nor do we think that even the aggrieved parents of the injured friend would approve of the plan. If you reprobate an ill-bred action, you cannot, consistently with your own views of what is seemly and dignified, punish that action by following suit, and doing what would be ill-bred yourself. Besides, as a Christian, read Romans xii. 19.
UNA MILDRED HITCHINGS (N.Z).—The 14th of February, 1809, was a Tuesday. Many thanks for your nice letter.
E. B. P. we think had better take more exercise, and avoid late suppers and sitting up late, as it seems probable her digestion is weak.
SEPIA.—Hairpins are not injurious to the hair except when the hair is too tightly put up, when that certainly affects the nerves. We think young people, as a rule, do not require stimulants unless under the doctor's orders. We think oils are far easier to use than water-colours.
MORNING DEWDROP.—We do not think the poetry worth much now, but it shows that at fifteen you are thinking about good things in preference to evil and idle things, and so we consider writing poetry, in many cases, a good amusement.
QUEENIE FOSTER should return the duplicate copy and ask for the right one, and if enclosing stamps, as the surest way of getting it, she can retain the duplicate.
AN UNHAPPY ONE should not marry her widower on any account, if she feels as unhappy as her letter portrays. She must not grow discouraged too soon, but cultivate patience, and never minding. And should she finally undertake the care of a ready-made family, she must be brave and courteous, not rendering railing for railing, but, contrariwise, blessing. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
HAWTHORN.—We know of nothing better than your present treatment. We are much obliged by your kind offer, but we do not require any at present.
IDONEA.—We should think your digestion was out of order. Read the advice given by Medicus to "Working Girls," page 295, vol. vi.
MYSOTIS.—Your nationality is that of your father, but you may adopt a country; and if he be naturalised English, you become English too, or you may legally become so yourself. Also, if you marry an Englishman you become an Englishwoman, without going through the process of naturalisation. Of course by blood you are half English, through your maternal descent.
OPHELIA.—We feel for "Ophelia" very sincerely; but she should rouse herself, and not give way to morbid brooding over her troubles. Has she no sacred duties to perform to those around her? No Lord and Master above to serve and glorify, by submission to His dispensations? Has she no blessed hope of a life beyond the grave? We could not insert your verses. "All else" is not "gone," whoever was removed, when you have "one that sticketh closer than a brother" to lean upon. Read St. John xiv.; indeed, you had better study the whole Gospel, and set yourself resolutely to devote yourself to others.
MAY ELWIN.—Our publisher, Mr. Tarn, sent us your letter. We suppose you thought him the editor. The writer of the poems you name is not one with whom we are acquainted.
MYSELF.—We cannot do better than refer you to the abuses of the Lord's supper, to which St. Paul alludes in 1 Cor. ii. 21, 22, which answers your question. Also see Hebrews x. 25, and 1 Cor. xiv. 40. Beware how you trifle with sacred rites and sacraments. You had better look up the whole of the text about Elders and their office in the New Testament Epistles. Our Lord's promise is that where two or three are gathered together He would be in their midst and bless them. You had better look out the word communion in the dictionary, as it cannot refer to one person alone; it is an act performed by a certain number of persons together, more or less. Again, when the clergyman prays for his congregation, is he not a mediator? And when you and your friends pray for each other, are you not mediators? And this, without disparagement to the doctrine that Christ is the great and chief Mediator, without whose divine mediation all other would be useless.
BRUNETTE.—The soul does not attain its highest state of bliss until it be re-united to the body; but the soul of a believer in Christ (by which we mean one of His faithful people, who loves, serves, and trusts in Him and His atonement alone) will enter into a happy and sinless rest. He has made "an everlasting covenant with them," not with those who deny Him. Any mercy shown to such would be uncovenanted. See for yourself what the Scriptures say. We know nothing more than what is revealed in them. As to the heathen who have not heard the Gospel, they are "a law unto themselves," and will be judged as such, not as those who rejected Christ.
ONE WANTING TO LEARN.—We are glad that you find the Sulhampstead Question Society, which we recommended, so useful in helping forward your education. We do not print our correspondents' letters.
ROY.—We regret that we cannot accede to your request. It would interfere with the general usefulness of our magazine if we were to introduce the subject of politics into it. We do not even discuss vexed questions of religious belief, because our paper is meant for persons of all denominations, whose feelings should be respected. We limit our teaching to the broad principles of our common Christianity.
LOTTIE.—If in so feeble a state of health, you should obtain medical advice. We could not prescribe for a perfect stranger.
JUNE.—All the chief writers of this paper, with the artists and musical composers, including ourselves, have already been represented, in a more or less satisfactory manner. The story, "That Aggravating Schoolgirl," appeared in the second volume, beginning at page 9.
M. C. F.—We do not quite understand what you mean. Visiting cards should never be sent by post, and if they be left at the house you acknowledge them by calling in return. If people be at a distance from you, you must take an opportunity of calling when near. You must answer congratulations either by letter or a call.
BIRCHBROOM.—St. Paul was a bachelor, and tells you so in 1 Cor. vii. You will find many pretty designs for knitting in our paper. We do not propose to keep any space specially for knitting recipes. You will find one for a petticoat at page 41, vol. ii., in the number for October, 1880.