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Kathleen

Kathleen image
Parent Issue
Day
5
Month
December
Year
1873
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

"Kathleen, is it possible that you are crying again ? Did Í not teil you that I should discharge you if I t'ound you indulging in tliis foolish whimpering any more V" Poor Kathleen O'Neil had beeu dusting the elegantly furnisbed diawing-room, and she stood before au exquisite little painting of one of the blue, sparkling Irish lakes, set in gold green shores, with sky beyond like liquid amber - stood with the apron to her eyes, and her ruddy cheeks deluged with tears. " 1 couldn t help it, múm," she sobbed, " tbr it puts me in mind of home P " " Home ! " scornfully echoed Mrs. Arnott. " Your home ! A shanty in a bog. It isn't likely that you ever saw such a spot as that." " 'Deed did I, then ma'am," answered Kathleen, " and many a time. For we lived beyant them same green shores when- " " There that will do," said Mrs. Amott coldly, "I do not care about any reminiscences." Kathleen did not understand the fivesyllabled word, but her quick nature compreheuded the sarcastic tone. The tears were dried in their font- the scarlet spot glowed in either check. " She looks down on me as if I were a dog ! " Kathleen thought to herself. "And sure it's the same fiesh and blood God has given to us both. How would she like it, I wonder, to be in a strange land and nivcr a kind word spoken to her! But if I could see the mother, and little Honora, and Teddy, that's but a baby yet ! But the blue sea rolls between us, and it's all alone I am ! " Poor Kithleen ! the sense of desolation carne upon her with sickening power jast thfiii, as sbe stood before the picture of the sweet Irish lake, wi}h the wet splaslies on her cheek, and Mrs. Arnott's cold, hard voice sound'.ng in her ears. " It's a, great trial to be obliged to do with these wild, untutored Irish." Kathleen was just bnnging up the tray and Mrs. Arnott's words sounded distinctly in her ears, as she paused on the top step to get breath. " Of oourse, my dear," said Mrs. Tudor Audor, sympathetically, " They're bad- thoroughly and systematically bad, the whole lot of 'em. I'd send them all back to their native country, if it lay in my power." " I wish they were all at the bottom ot the sea," said Mrs. Arnott sharply, " and then, perhaps, we should have a chance to employ Swedish or Chinese, or somebody that would at least earn their bread. Is that you Kathleen 'i Why don't you bring the ice-water in at once instead of dawdlinar thereV" Katlileen obeyed, but the dreary, houiesick feeling that thrilled through all her pulses, can hardly be described. " If I were only at home again," thought slie, " in bonny Ireland, where the poorest and the nieanest have a kind word for eaoh other! They soorn and hate me here ; and sure I've tried to do my best, but the lady has a heart of stone, and even the little children in theuursery with their French uiaid, make f uu of Insh Kathleen." And the lonely exile wept herselt to sleep upon her solitary pillow that night. It was a mere closet of a room, without light or ventilation, that she occupied. Mrs. Arnott said that any place was good enough for Kathleen ; the bed was hard pnri insnfficientlv m-ovided with clothing, but, as Mrs. Arnott oarclessly observed, it was no doubt a great deal better than she had been accustoraed to at home. And she had just paid Messrs. Isaacson 6 Co. a thousand dollars a piece i'or drapng her drawing-room windows with laoe nd brocatelle- so, of oourse, there was othing leí't í'or such a trifle as the com'orts of her servants. "Is Kathleen sick, mamma?' httle Julia Arnott, asked one day; " she cries o much and looks so white !" Mr. Arnott, a stout-built, good-hearted man, of forty, or thereabouts, glanced 'rom bis paper. " What does the child mean, Lucretia i he asked of his wife, " I hope that you ook a little after your girls." " Of course I do," she said sharply; Kathleen is only moping. She's a silent, sullen thing, and I shall discharge her next month. N atalie has a cousin wüo wants the place." " Has she any friends in the country - Kathleen I mean?" " Not that I know of." " Seems to me I wouldn't discharge her then. It would be rather hard, unless she is guilty of some fault." Mrs. Arnott bit her lip. " Gentlemen understand nothing of the management of a said she tartly. " These girls have not our sensitive natures either, thoy are quite used to knocking around the world. Are you going down town now?" "Yes." " I wish you'd step and ask Dr. Heart to stop here this morning. Little Clarence is feverish." " Anything serious ? " "I hope not," the mothcr answered, "but I alwayslike to take these things in time." Dr. Heart looked over Clarence's little crib ; he involuntarily uttered the name of a malignant type of fever just then raging in the city. " I -wish you had sent for me before ? I fear that it is too late to secure the exemption of your two other little ones. But with constant care I think we ïnay save the little fellow. You have a good nurse P " " An excellent one. I can trust Natalie as I would jnyself." " You are fortúnate," said the dcotor. He had hardly closed the door behind hiin, when Natalie catne to her mistress. "My month expires to-niorrow, madam - will you pay me my wages, and let me take my departuro at onoe '{" " But, Natalie, the baby is sick- " " One's first duty is to one's seiï. 1 would not risk tho infection for twice what you pay me." And Nataüe packed her trunk and departed without even coming into tho nursery to bii little Clarence good by. ïhe cook waa next to give warning. Matilda, the laundress, took herself off without any such preliminary ceremony. " I'm going too," said the seamstress. " Mrs. Arnott wouldn't have lifted her finger if we'd all been dying, and I believe in doing to others as they do to me." And almost before she knew it, the strioken mother was left alone by the bedside of her suffering babe. Neighbors crossed on the other side of tho street, like priesta and Levites of old ; friends contented themselves by sending in to inquire; even hired nurses to avoid the malignant fever. " Is there no one to help me 'r1 " she moaned, wringing her white, jeweled hands together. "Have all pity and womanly sympathy died out of the world?" She turned at soine fancied sound- Kathleen O'Neil was at her sido busied in arranging the table. " I thought you, too, had gone, Kathleen," she cried out. " Sure, ma'am, what should I be going for?" asked Kathleen, simply, " and the bits of childer sick, and you in sore trouble? I nursed the little brothers and sisterr thro' the fever at home, and I know just what needs to be done." And she took little Clareuce in her arms with a soft tenderness that went to the mother's heart. " Are you not afarid, Kathleen ? " " What would I be afraid of, ma'am ? " I.sn't the good God's sky over us all, ■whether its the green banks of Ireland or the church steeples of this city'r1 Oh, ma'am, don't fear. He'll not take the bonny baby froni us." All of Mrs. Arnott's children had tha fever, last of all she was prostrated by it, and Kathleeu watched over every one, faithful, true and tender. "Kathleen," Mrs. Arnott said incoherently, the first day she sat up, with the Irish girl arranging the pillowsabout her wasted form. " Oh, Kathleen, I don't deserve all this." " Sure, ma'am, if we all had our deserts in this world, its a sorry place it would be I'm thinking," said Kathleeu. " But, Kathleen, I was cruel to you - so heartless ! " won't talk of it, ma'ain. dear," said Kathleen, evasively. " But say just once that you forgive me," pleaded the lady, once so haughty. " I forgive you, ma'am - as free as the sunshine ! " Kathleen answered, softly. " And you will stay with me always and be my friend, Kathleen ? " " If God wills it, ma'am." And Mrs. Arnott put up her Ups to kiss Irish Kathleen's fresh, eool cheeks. The years that have passed by since then, liave made men and women of the little people that Kuthleen nursed through the fever ; and strangers who visited Mrs. Amott, scarcely know what to make of the plump, comely, middleaged woman who moves about the houso, appaiiitly as mucli at home in it as the mistress herself - who is always consulted about everything, and trusted with all secreta. " Is she a housekoeper, or a servant, or arelationV" souie one once asked. And Mrs. Arnott replied : " She is my true and trusted friend, Kathleen ü'Neil.

Article

Subjects
Old News
Michigan Argus