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I see I am not
fit to teach."

"I do not think you can tell without a longer trial," was the answer,
kindly given.

"But I am so ignorant!" said Jessie. "There is so much in these things
that I never thought of, and the others seem to know all about it."

"It has been their regular Sunday school round for years," said Miss
Manners, "so it would be strange if they did not. But perhaps you will
do all the better for coming to it fresh; and I am sure you are willing
to take pains and prepare."

"Yes," said Jessie, slowly, "if----You'll excuse me, Miss Manners,
but----"

"Please say it, Jessie," said the lady; "or shall I say it for you? This
asking idle children very simple questions does not seem to you to be
spiritual enough to be doing much good?"

"Yes, ma'am, if you will excuse me. I thought there was to be more
expounding of Scripture."

"We must do what we can to get the children to attend to," said Miss
Manners. "Even if we could get them to sit still while we expounded, I
am afraid they would not attend or take in what we said. Nothing is of
use with such young things but keeping them on the alert with
questions, and trying to keep up their attention by being alive with
them ourselves. We must try to put into them the sense of God's love to
them, of their own duty, and so on; but rather by the tone of our
questions about the lessons they learn than by discoursing long to them.
You can only fill a little narrow-mouthed pitcher with a few drops at a
time put right in. If you pour a great stream over it, most will splash
over, and very little go in. I am afraid the children were tiresome last
Sunday. It is their nature always to try their strength with a new
teacher; but if you are firm and gentle, and show them that you _will_
be minded, and keep them interested, they will soon be manageable. Then,
Jessie, there is good hope that you may be sowing good seed, though you
and I may not always see the fruit here, and it is nearly sure to be
long before we can even trace the green blade."




CHAPTER V.

THE TROUSSEAU.


MISS MANNERS'S words stayed with Jessie. She had plenty of sense and
spirit, as well as a real wish to do right, and a yearning to spread the
great Light round her. To be sure, the going to some mission in a
dreadfully ignorant and wicked place would have seemed more like a good
work than just taking a class who would be taught and cared for even
without her help.

But she could see that if she could not keep these tidy little trained
children in order, she would not have much chance with the street Arabs
she had read of.

She got on much better the next Sunday. She kept the children interested
almost all the time, all except the two lowest, who were determined to
chatter till she made one stand on each side of her, and then one of
them, Emma Lott, chose to howl till Miss Manners came to see what was
the matter; but she did not get much by that, for she was only told that
she was very naughty not to mind Miss Hollis, and desired to stop crying
directly, which she did; and then Miss Manners asked Miss Hollis to be
so kind as not to take away her ticket, if she would try to behave well
for the rest of the day.

Once more Lily Bell was so kind as to inform "teacher" that Susan said
"she didn't care, not for she." To which Jessie coolly answered that she
hoped Susan would soon learn to care for being a good girl, taking care
not to look the least mortified, so that the information fell very
flat. After that she had no more trouble with sauciness from the
children; she began to find that Susan was clever and bright, and that
Kate May and Lucy Elwood were very nice little maidens, who seemed to
care to be good. They brought her flowers, told her funny little bits of
news about baby beginning to walk, and mother going to Ellerby, and she
found the time spent at school a very pleasant part of her Sunday; while
as to the hours of preparation with Miss Manners, she enjoyed them so
much that it was quite a blank if that lady had any engagement to
prevent her from receiving her little party of teachers.

Jessie found herself learning much more than she taught. Her quick
nature could not but look into everything thoroughly, and when she had
been once shown how to throw all her mind as well as her soul into the
study of the Bible and Prayer-book, she found ever new delight in them.
She began to find it helped her to pray with her understanding, as well
as with her spirit at Church; to care more for her prayers at home, and
to feel more on the times of the Holy Communion. She made her last
year's hat serve again with a fresh tulle trimming, that she might buy
herself a "Teacher's Bible," and not worry her mother and Grace any more
by disturbing the big one, since they thought it honouring such a Bible
to let it alone.

Mrs. Hollis did read the Psalms and one Lesson every day. She said she
had once promised Amy Lee, aunt to the present Amy, and she had hardly
ever missed doing so.

But Grace had not time. Just after Whitsuntide the daughter of a very
rich farmer in the neighbourhood was engaged to be married, and wanted a
quantity of fine work to be done for her, making underlinen and
embroidering marks to handkerchiefs.

She came with her mother to offer the work to Miss Lee, giving six weeks
for it, but it was more than Aunt Rose thought right to undertake in the
time. She said she could not get it done without disappointing several
persons, and that she was very sorry, but that she could only undertake
two sets of the things in the time.

Mrs. Robson, the mother, was vexed and half angry. She said she hated
common shop-work, and ready-made things, and she had taken a fancy to
what she had seen of Miss Lee's work. She even offered to increase the
payment, but Rose Lee stood firm. She said there was no one at hand whom
she could hire and entrust with such work, and that she could not feel
it right to undertake it, as it would only lead to breaking her
engagements.

"O, very well; I see you don't care to oblige me," said the lady,
twirling off with her very tight skirts, and whisking up a train like a
fish's tail. "No, I will not break the set. I am not accustomed to
refusals."

And off the two ladies drove, and Jessie told the story at home with a
great deal of spirit.

"Now that's just like Rose Lee," said Grace. "She won't make a bit of
exertion for her own good!"

"Well," said Jessie, "you know we should have to work awfully hard if
she took it in hand."

"I suppose she would have paid you for extra hours," said Grace sharply.

"Miss Rose said it was the way to ruin a girl's health to set her to do
such a lot of work," said Jessie.

"And quite right too," put in her mother. "I knew a girl who was
apprenticed to a dressmaker, and sat up five nights when they had two
black jobs one after the other, and that girl's eyes never was the same
again!"

"Besides," added Jessie, "there's so much in hand."

"Well, it might not do to offend Mrs. or Miss Manners, but--"

"O, it is not that! The children's things were sent home yesterday. I
wish you could have seen them, they were loves; and Miss Manners has got
a new dress from London. She let Miss Lee see it, and take the pattern
of the trimming. No, but Mrs. Drew has sent her Swiss cambric to be made
up for Miss Alice, and Miss Pemberton has a new carmelite to be
finished, and there are some dresses for the maids at the hall, all
promised by Midsummer day."

"Pooh! Customers like that can wait."

"I don't see that it is a bit more right to disappoint them than any one
else," said Jessie sturdily.

"Old Miss Pemberton, to be compared with a lady like that!" exclaimed
Grace.

"It doesn't make much odds as to right or wrong," said Jessie, "but I
don't think Mrs. Robson is much of a lady, to judge by the way she gave
her orders and flounced off in a huff."

"A lady," said Mrs. Hollis, contemptuously, "I should think not. Why,
her father kept the 'White Feathers' at Ellerby; and Robson, he rose up
just by speculations, as they call them; but I've seen him a little
greengrocer's errand-boy, with a face like a dirty potato."

"They can pay, any way," said Grace. "Folks say Robson could buy out our
squire, ay, and my lord himself, if he chose."

"And I'm sure," said Jessie, "she and her daughter had clothes on that
must cost forty or fifty pounds apiece. Such a fur cloak, lined with
ermine; and the young lady's jacket was sealskin, trimmed ever so deep
with sable, and a hummingbird in her hat. They say little Miss Hilda saw
her and cried for pity of the poor dear little bird."

"Well, I'll tell you what," said Grace, "I'll set off this minute to
Newcome Park, and see if I can't get the work, or at least some of it.
You and I can do plain work as well any day as Rose Lee, Jessie."

"Yes," said Jessie, "but I have my time at Miss Lee's all the same."

"Of course, child; but there are the evenings, and I can sit to it while
mother minds the shop."

"Don't undertake more than you can manage, Grace," said Mrs. Hollis.

"Trust me for that, mother. You can wash up, Jessie; I can get there
before they go to dress for dinner. It is a capital thing! It will just
make up for that bad debt of Long's, and help us to get in a real
genteel stock of summer goods."

Grace managed the house, and her mother, who durst not say a word when
she was set on a thing; and as to Jessie, her sister always treated her
as a rather naughty, idle child.

The girl had struggled hotly against this, but it had always ended in
getting into such a temper, and saying such fierce and violent things,
that she had been much grieved and ashamed of herself, and now felt it
better to let Grace have her way than to get into a dispute which was
sure to make her do wrong.

But when Grace, as neat as a new pin, had tripped out of the house, Mrs.
Hollis and Jessie looked at one another, as if they had a pretty severe
task set them.

"Well, I think we could have managed without," said Mrs. Hollis, "but to
be sure it is as well to be on the safe side; though I'd rather be
without the money than be at all the trouble and hurry this work will
be!"

"I am sure I had," said Jessie.



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