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Mabel's Story

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We livril far away in the country, in a rustic district. My father was postmastui' of the little place, and kopt a few groceries for sale. lint he hád enough to do lo maintain liis family scantily and clothe. tlium dueontly. I wassixtecm, and houseUi'i ; my niüthcr was dead, and I was tin' cldcst f us tour children. The rest lenig youngcr, I strove to do my bost for them. My one great trouble was my cloth js. Other girls of my station that I associated with dressed better than I cou'.d, and it grieved ine. Vanity bigins earlier than tiat in the female heart. I had made und remade every article of my raothor's wardrobo for the the children or ui yself; had worked up every slired to tho bi6t íulvantafío ; and now that tliat was all gunc 1 diil ueod a dres.s for the coming winter. I made niy shoes last as long a;;;iin as other girls did, for I kuew iny f.ithcr needed evory Kixjience he could e uu, and I dreaded wautiug anytliing. Not tiiat hc was ever cross, but he ot'tcn siirhcd, and looked so pained and sorrowful whon I asked for money, that I triel to do with as little as possible. But hero it was the last of October ; my lammer drena, poor enough at all timüs, looked very thin and p;iltry now. Oiiu Saturday afteraooa I shall never foxget. it is wiuit I om gi;ig to teil of My work all dono, the children at play in the orcliard, I eonibod. out my long, brown hair, put on my best cotton frock, sélected a plain linón collar of ruy owa tnaking and pinnud it aroimd my neck wifi an old breastpin, the only bit of jewolry I liad ever ownod. With tn i J LliniK it was au instinct to dress woll - not fine, only neat. Then taking out my last. winter's bost frock, I sat down by the window to sec what I could do at renovating it. It was a light blue merino - vcry ligut indeed now - and I know it was too hort tor me, as I was still growing, and was vory shabby. But, by tuining and putting in a widc piecu of trimining that I had, I thought it tyigbt bo made to answor ; so I sut to work with a will, Thowurk was vexing. I was trying to do what soarculy could be dono ; and, as Isataowing and contriving, I feit, üt to cry over oui poverty. Just then the dog on tV shop-sill set up a loud barking, and I looked to sui what it was at. A iiiun was coming in the gato with B pack on kis back - a traveling peddler, I kuaw. Se mniled and came in, although I s:;i I did not wish anything ; and tho cliilden, sceing hi.n, catuo running in, too. ■ I cannot alford to buy, indeed I cannot," I kept saying. But liu ouly kept on öiniling, and opened bis pauk on thé parlor íloor. And it wo-s too great a to me to see things to mako much opposition. Thi! iiist that cama Ottt was jast the very tMngl bad most longed for - aboautitul, fino French merino, of a dirk erimson color. I bad onee Been a dress of tliis kiud, bnt none had ever been oft'ored for salo in our littlo place that could eqnul tliis in shade or texturo. The p ddler looked at ino w th his keen bbick eves as I knelt down to feel tho prize I bad no hopo of winning. The lady will buy 'i he said, but I shook my hoad and crossinir niy hands bcliind in., stood up resolutuly, trying hard not to long for the much deeired piece of goods. " Not buy ! " he uxulaimüd, in a brokon 1 mguage of sonie sort, 1 could not teil wbetlier Germán orFrencb, and he looked so aatonished, and eren pitiful, that I folt sorry at once, and confessod that I hadno inoney, und could not purooase. " But the beantiful young lady liave somc old silver - old joweiry - old silk dresses - just aegood as money '■ " said ho. I laugbed at Ue idea, but he only oponed another packageto display tothe boys some durab watchua with very gay chains, and, handing them each ono, lie took out a mail dolí for my littlc sister, and then told them to run nway now " till sister bought her dress." I motionod to them to Btay near the door step, and theu, taking up the much coveted dress piece, ngain cxainined it. Satan was tempting iue, or somo vuxatiou.s spirit that does du tv tor him, and never had 1 been so ly best-t. How could I let it go, yet how pay i'' it ? The black oyes never left my face, but the fcllow was respBotful, only bowing lower as he said, " Yon tliiuk it good 't " ' Oh, yes ! " I replied ; " too good for me." " Xot so," he saiil. " It suits you too much, and you ihall have it cheap." "I teil you I have no uioney." ' No matter; I trust. You give me something to keep for you, and I como again," he said. " But I have nothing, ' I insisted. Still he only seerned more eagi r ; and said something of hard times, of having to stay at the tavern, audexpensosovur Sunrlny, of being " vory tiro "-and I with the merino in niy hand all the while. Suddenly he stepped closü to me, pointing to the poor brouoh I wore. I could give him that, he said ; that is, lend it to hiiu ia trust until ho eaiue again. Bid I t hink much of it, he akcd. I laughed as I undid it. I did not think much of it. but it was all the ry I possessed in the world. Showed him niy name on lbo back, " Jlubol." But it was worn nearly illegiblo now. Ni-iirly quite," üe said, turning it about in hú hands. " It is very poor." And ibis was true ; the poor, tliin gold if it wiis gold, was all dintud and inashed flat, tho original pin gone, and a neodle tied by the oye witu a thread served to fasten it. One large stom; wis Bet in the center, as large as a pea, surroundod by nina smaller ones, but one of these waa lost out long ago, and I had often tried to find a piece of white glass to fit tho small cavity, but had iailed. The stones wure all glass, as I believcd. Bomu of the girls in the village would sak me why I wore the old-iashioned thing; thcn I would show them the dim " Mabel " on tho baok, and teil tliom I had been namcd after the name there. Some one had given my mother the pin for me when I was bom; and so my mother said I should bear tho samo niine. The peddler kopt it in hiu hand and I noticed that his hand trembled. " 111 bring it you buck in thrce months time," he said, " won't bo o' no good to me, but ril takc it on trust. Or, if you can pay sooner, I shall be about thi neigliborhood all next week, and shal I sleep each night at the ian." Be you vory sure I did not hositate long. Tho temjitiitiou Was too great ; so thrusting tho oíd pin careleasly into his bronst pocket, he tied up his bundles, uud uith low bows, he let't tho hou.-tu. I could suareoly beliuvu in my luck. I spread out niy new frock on tiio bod, .ni held it before mo to try tlie clfcct. And tlien I bogan to repent. My father, I knew, would not give mo orón look ; but still I did not liko to toll hini of the twelve shillings I owed tlio peddler. I would bo so saving lor the nuxt throo tnonths that ho would loaenothiugby my bargain, for I'd sorape it togetUor myselt. When I piokod up the Linee band to put it around my neck, I did not kiuw how to fastmi it ut first without that familiar oíd pin ; then I rojolloctud how thu girls had told uic that a bow of ribbjn would look so muoh Detter. So, lookiiig up a piuco of velvet, I foraied u bow and tVjlt more than satisfiod. My father üid not get homo to toa or to Bttppor. I put tho children to bed, after their slieei oi' bread and butter and a good washing. At 10 o'clock a note oame, siying som I business had detcüaod my father; that I hnd botter closo this bouje and retiro. - Tliis was nothing very uauiual, as bis businoss often kejjt liiui latn. I was quite a staid little woiii.ui in uiiungomunt, and did as I was bid. My father would como in with his latci-key. Oi Suaday ifaorning at breakfost tho ohildrea showod him their watchu.s aiid dolí. I sai.l nothing about the dress, for it struck me lie was ooking anxious. " Whoro's your breastpin, Mabel ? " ho asked, as t!ie oHildxdn rn out before tho dojr after bruuktust. The breastpm '■ I was frightoned at onec. II -j h id never aikod after it or ticed it becore. Hü must havo hoard of what I hnd dono and was angry. " Fathor, I hava not got it r " I excluimed at once, roady to cry. "Not gjt il ': What do you inciu, ohild t You surely wore it yeaterday." " Yes, sir," I replied, " and its all safo. I wns just goiug to tell you about it whuu you frightened iny." "Well, I don't wish to frighton you, my dear ; I had no thought of such a thing. Galm yourself, ilabul, while I tall you of a letter I reuoived yosterday, and then you can got the pin at your leisuro. You can got it? " " I can get it, fathur. Or, rather, you can. Bat I hope you will not blaiuü ma. What have you hoard about it ? " " Well, my dear, listen. We havo never attaohed any valué to the oíd pin, only that a goud, kind womau gave it to your niother to keep for you, and so ws did keup it bücausa of that. She wtis a strammer to us, poor lady, and your mother was kind to her. But she loft the plaoe soDii ofter you were boru, and wd nevor herd more of her. Yesterd.iy I got a letter f rom a long distaneo, asking about that vory pin and dasoribing it, eveu to the niune un thj back. It 13 vury valuable, Mabel. ' My hoart beat ten strokos whoro it iiouui nave ueat uut ony. " The pin we sot no store by is of grcat valuo, Mabel. The center diamond alono s worth what to us poor people wüuU bc a fortuno. And it is ail yours, my dear ; roucan oonvert tho diamonds into mony a'id bc at ease all your Iffe." What with tho overpoworing surprise, v!il with foar of my father's angsr, I 'ainted. Wlion I carne to my sens.s, on .hcsof.iin the parlor, the childrcn wero hore, and it was too late to go to hurch. feil bowildered, and trembled yjt, but 8tonod attButively to my fathor as hu ead the important letter trom London. Jhen 1 sprang up wildly. ' Oh, lathor, ïather, go down to tho ilack Ilórsc ! " I exolaimed. " The pedller is thero, and he has my pin." My fatuer'a fcrst thought was that tho ;ood fortuno had turnad my brain. I exlainod all to him. üo was vcry kind, laversooldingmo"; but s to fioding thu jin and peddler, he ki;uw moro of the voild thim his foolish cliikl, and was not o hopcful. H )wever, he thought bost to go, and for me to go with him. So, in a few minutes wo were walking down to the Black llorse. The lamllord was sitting alone in his front porch, smoking quietly. He looked sui-pviscd whon we walkod up the step, but vory politely invited us into the parlor, explaiuing all lus woinen folks had goue to church. ' Is thero a peddler stayiug with you, Mr. Ford 'i " began my father. "A peddler? - no," exolaimed tho lamllord, as if tho qu 'stiou vcximI him. " I have not seon a peddler for three weeks, an.l the ona that was here then did not pay his bill." I must have turned vBt-y püe at tiiis, and feit faint. Mr. Ford w,inted me to a b irdioJL, but my father turned it off, saying 1 was tir tl. Then h.) suifl 1 had made a littlo barg lin with a po 1 lier theday before, and tliat ho wished to set tle with liim. " Got oheated, I warrant," said thu bluff oíd landloni ; " but no suoh man was at tliis house yesterday. I d) rccolluct now tbat Joe, my hostler, s:iid hu saw a folio w with i big black bcx or bundlo como up the bank from the rivcr juit after the stage paased, but didn't pay any attention to him." My lathor gave up all hopo at onoo ; buticoulrl not believe my fortune v, i goue. Ho tried to comfort mo, saying T was justas wull off as bef ore, and bad a new dinss into the bargain. IIow I liitud thu thought of my boautiful merino Wcll, it is of no use tu pïolong my storj or teil you of all thoefforts made to catcl the adroit thinf. He was no peddler, but a clcik in that vcry law oilice froiii whiol tho letter was sent telling us of the dia monds. He ïnanaged to delay the Lette: to my fathor lor a post or two, hastenec away himself, and obtaiued the pin. We liever found him ; we never hearc of him. He must have got off somewhero over the sim with lus prae. My pooi toiliag father, etlwaya gentle, did not re proach me ; but ever to this day the re fret lies hefivily on my mind ; for wha night 1 DOt have (tone lor üiin an.l tuc ohudreó with all that money. And tho lady who had givon me the pin (lid not know until she was dying tinvalue it was ot'. And that caused the stir. Ab, me, it was one of thoso chancos Lu lifo that perhapa we all miss on oucasions; "the tido in the affaire of 111011 which, taken at its nood, luads on to fortune." And about my crimson dress? For a long time, shabby though I was, I oould not look at it, or let it bc ma Ie up. But time soothes troubl-s. And I mu-i say that it made a oharming gown ; and oiu' who was :in artist s;iw me in it and made me his wifè. So pelbapa it all happoned for the best. But I'm surtí I liope that wicked peddler - who made bclieve to speak liko a foreigncr, tho botter to tako mo in - came to bo hsnged. An Indianapolis paper thus s-uins np the 'Uvorcü market. "Brisk oomp&tition among tho lawyers has brought down the price of divorces very low in this mïirki't. We quote: Coiamon neparation, if l') ; small alimony, $25 : largo al;ïnouy, 5U to $100. ïliure are but few of the latter in the market. General j business good and increasing."


Old News
Michigan Argus