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SOWING AND SEWING.

A Sexagesima Story.

by

CHARLOTTE M. YONGE.







New York:
E. P. Dutton and Co.,
39, West Twenty-Third Street.




PREFACE.


PERHAPS some may read allusions to a sacred Parable underlying this
little story. If so, I hope they will not think it an irreverent mode of
applying the lesson.

C. M. YONGE.




CONTENTS.


CHAPTER I. PAGE
THE SERMON 1

CHAPTER II.
THE SUNDAY SCHOOL 13

CHAPTER III.
THE WORKING PARTY 28

CHAPTER IV.
TEACHER AMY 49

CHAPTER V.
THE TROUSSEAU 64

CHAPTER VI.
STITCH, STITCH, STITCH 79

CHAPTER VII.
WANDERING EYES 101

CHAPTER VIII.
AMY'S VISITS 115

CHAPTER IX.
AWKWARD MEETINGS 127

CHAPTER X.
THE RECKONING 150

CHAPTER XI.
WHICH SHALL PROSPER? 159




SOWING AND SEWING.




CHAPTER I.

THE SERMON.


FOUR girls were together in a pleasant cottage room with a large window,
over which fluttered some dry sticks, which would in due time bear
clematis and Virginia creeper leaves.

Three of them were Miss Lee's apprentices, and this room had been built
out at the back of the baker's shop for them. The place was the property
of the Lee family themselves, and nobody in Langley was more respected
than they were. Ambrose Lee, whose name was over the baker's shop, and
who kept a horse and cart, was always called Mr. Lee.

He had married a pretty, delicate young girl, who had soon fallen into
such hopeless ill-health, that his sister Charlotte was obliged to live
at home to attend to her and to the shop. And when young Mrs. Lee died,
leaving three small children, another sister, Rose, gave up her place to
help in the care of her old father and the little ones.

Rose Lee had been a sewing maid, and, being clever, had become a very
fair dressmaker; so she took in needlework from the first, and when good
old master Lee died, and the children had grown old enough to be more
off her hands, she became the dressmaker and sempstress of the place,
since there was no doubt that all she took in hand would be thoroughly
well turned out of hand, from a child's under garment up to Mrs. and
Miss Manners's dresses. "For," as her sister Charlotte proudly said of
her, "the ladies had everything made down here, except one or two
dresses from London for the fashion." Her nephews were both from home,
one as a pupil-teacher, the other at a baker's with a superior business,
and her niece, Amy, the only girl of the family, had begun as a
pupil-teacher, but she had such bad headaches at the end of her first
year that her father was afraid to let her go on studying for
examinations, and cancelled her engagement, and thus she became an
assistant to her aunt. Then Jessie Hollis, from the shop, came home from
her aunt's, unwilling to go to service, and begged Miss Lee to take her
and teach her dressmaking; and, having thus begun, she consented, rather
less willingly, to take likewise Florence Cray from the Manners Arms,
chiefly because she had known her mother all her life, and believed her
to be careful of the girl; besides which, it was a very respectable
house.

As plain work, as well as dressmaking, was done, there was quite enough
employment for all the hands, as well as for the sewing machine, at
which Amy, a fair, delicate-looking girl, was whirring away, while
Jessie was making the button-holes of a long _princesse_ dress, and
Florence tacking in some lining; or rather each was pausing a little in
her work to answer Grace Hollis, Jessie's sister, a businesslike-looking
young person, dressed in her town-going hat and jacket, who had stepped
in, on her way to meet the Minsterham omnibus, to ask whether Miss Lee
wanted to have anything done for her, and likewise how many yards of
narrow black velvet would be wanted for the trimming of her own and
Jessie's spring dresses.

Miss Lee was gone up to the house for a grand measuring of all the
children for their new frocks; but Amy began to calculate and ask
questions about the width and number of rows, and Jessie presently
said--

"After all, I think mine will look very well without any round the
skirt."

"Why, Jessie, I thought you said the dress you saw looked so genteel
with the three rows----"

"Yes," said Jessie; "but I have thought since--" and she hesitated and
blushed.

Amy got up from the machine, came towards her, and, laying her hand on
her, said, gently--

"I know, Jessie."

"And I know, though you wanted to keep it a secret!" cried Florence. "I
was at church too last night!"

"Oh, yes, I saw you, Florence; and wasn't it beautiful?" said Amy,
earnestly.

"Most lovely! It is worth something to have a stranger here sometimes to
get a fresh hint from!" said Florence.

"I call that more than a hint," said Jessie, in a low voice. "I am so
glad you felt it as I did, Flossy."

"Felt it! You don't mean that you got hold of it? Then you can tell
whether it was cut on the bias, and how the little puffs were put on!"

"Why, what are you thinking of, Flossy?" exclaimed Amy. "Bias--puffs!
One would think you were talking of a dress!"

"Well, of course I was. Of that lovely self-trimming on that cashmere
dress of the lady that came with Miss Manners. What--what are you
laughing at, Grace?"

"Oh! Florence," said Amy, in a disappointed tone; "we thought you meant
the sermon."

"The sermon?" said Florence, half annoyed, half puzzled; "well, it was
a very good one; but----"

"It did make one feel--oh, I don't know how!" said Jessie, much too
eager to share her feelings with the other girls, even to perceive that
Florence wanted to go off to the trimming.

"Wasn't it beautiful--most beautiful--when he said it was not enough
only just not to be weeds, or to be only flowers, gay and lovely to the
eye?" said Amy.

"Yes," went on Jessie; "he said that we might see there were some
flowers just for beauty, all double, and with no fruit or good at all in
them, but dying off into a foul mass of decay."

"Ay," said Grace; "I thought of your dahlias, that, what with the rain
and the frost, were--pah!--the nastiest mess at last."

"Then he said," proceeded Jessie, "that there were some fair and comely,
some not, but only bringing forth just their own seeds, not doing any
real good, like people that keep themselves to themselves, and think it
is enough to be out of mischief and do good to themselves and their
families."

"And didn't you like it," broke in Amy, "when he said that was not what
God asked of us? He wanted us to be like the wheat, or the vine, or the
apple, or the strawberry, some plain in blossom, some fair and lovely to
look at, but valued for the fruit they bring forth, not selfishly, just
to keep up their own stock, but for the support and joy and blessing of
all!"

"One's heart just burnt within one," continued Jessie, "when he bade us
each one to go home and think what we could do to bring forth fruit for
the Master, some thirty, some sixty, some an hundredfold. Not only just
keeping oneself straight, but doing something for Christ through His
members."

"Only think of its being for Christ Himself," said Amy softly.

"Well," said Grace, "I thought we might take turns to go to Miss
Manners's missionary working parties. I never gave in to them before,
but I shall not be comfortable now unless I do something. And was that
what you meant about the velvet trimming, Jessie? It will save--"

"Fifteen pence," said Jessie.

"Very well--or you may say threepence more. So we can put that into the
box, if you like. I must be going now, and look sharp if I'm to catch
the bus. So good-bye, all of you."

"Oh! but won't you have the self-trimming," broke in Florence. "Perhaps
she'll be there on Friday night, and then we might amongst us make out
how it is done."

"Florence Cray, for shame!" said Grace. "I do believe you minded nothing
but that dress all through that sermon."

"Well," said Florence, who was a good-humoured girl, "there was no
helping it, when there it was just opposite in the aisle, and I'd never
seen one like it; and as to the sermon, you've just given it to me over
again, you've got it so pat; and I'll go to the missionary work meeting
too, Grace, and very like the young lady will be there, and I can see
her trimming."

"If you go for that, I would go to a fashion-book at once," said Grace;
"but I must really be off now, I've not another minute to stop."

"Oh dear, I forgot," cried Florence, jumping up, "I was to ask you to
call for our best tea-pot at Bilson's. And my mother wants a dozen--"
and there her voice was lost as she followed Grace out of the room
through the shop, and even along the road, discoursing on her
commissions.

Amy and Jessie were left together, and Amy stood up and said:

"Dear, I am so glad you felt it as I did!"

"One could not help it, if one listened at all," said Jessie. "Amy, I
must be doing something for His sake. I can't rest now without it. You
teach at the Sunday school. Don't you think I might?"

Amy meditated a little.

"I think they would make up a class for you. When Miss Pemberton's niece
goes away, the class she takes has to be joined to her aunt's, and that
makes a large one."

"Then will you speak to Miss Manners for me?" asked Jessie. "Are they
little girls or big ones?"

"Oh, that's the second class. They would be sure not to give you that,"
said Amy, as if she thought the aspiration very high, not to say
presumptuous. "Perhaps Margaret Roller, the pupil-teacher, you know, may
take that. Then I should have hers and you mine.



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