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Miscellany: The Neglected Opportunity: Part First

Miscellany: The Neglected Opportunity: Part First image
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In the frout parlor of a pleaeant dwelling in Philadelphia, were gathered a group of young persons who secmed determined to enjoy the present, w hutever sorrows might be reposing in the future. Mrs. Talbot, the lady of the house, bereeJf still young and lovely, was conversing gaüy with her guests, while her sister a muiden of twenty, was ieclining on a kw ottoman, engaged in animated Bport withher infant neice. It was pleasant to witness the foud pride of the young1 mother, as ever and anon. amid the conversation, she turned io look at the performances of her petted one, for the infant was certainly (ns the infant always is) '-'a very remarkable cbild;" she could dap her tiny hands, and Jaugh for auntie;' she could bow how d' ye do' to the company, and had plenty of 'ah do's,' when the naaiden disengaged lier luxuriant curls frora her grasp.Their somevvhat noisy sport was interrupted by a low knock at (he basement door. 'Some one for cold victuals, I suppose,' said the yoimg lady; 'I declare those beg-gars are a constant trouble; one cannot walk the etreets without bemy accosted at altnost every step with 'Give me a penny tü buy a loaf of bread.' I ihink it is wrong to give to such people. ' 'Tliereis no one below,' said Mra. Talbot. 'Perhaps, Adelle, you had better raise the window-, and teil her 'no,' t will eave trouble.' Adelle raised the sash, and glanced out, but the refusal died away upon her lips, as she met the upturned look of the boggnr child. 1'he simple sadness of the appeal, 'Have you any cold victuals to spare?1 uttered in thatpluintive, chüdlike tone, had entireiy wept away her scrupïesabout giving 'to such people,' and with a kiiidly-uttered 'jes, dear, wait a moment,' slie closed the windovv and hastily lefl the room. In a short time she returned, and was received by her friends with many laughing observatioiis upon her want of consistency. - 'O, tut this was not a common beggar, I do assure you,? eaid blie, earnestly, I nevcr sbw u prettier child in ri)y lif'e.' Then beauty is an advantage, even to a beggar gfirl?' suid Mrs. Talbot.'Certainly (t is, sister,' replied Adelle, laughing, 'you do not think I would have gone down there rumaging the closets, and clearing the kuchen of cold victnals íor a homeJy child, I hope. But, really, she was very inleresting; she had the pretüest blue eyes imaginable, just like little Ella's here, only more sad. 'Then, too, she was dressed so neatly; her soft curling hair and delicate complexion were protected by a little white sunbonnet, and even her old patched frock looked as neat as possible.' 'Really, sister, you havo grownas eloquent in defence, as you were a íew moment since in oppoBition. You are so fond of pets, you had better adopt her and make her your protege at once.' 'Well, if I did,' said Adelle, 'perhaps it would be the bost action of my life;- only Ella would be jealous,' she added, caressing Ihö lovely infant. 'But why not you, sister? You want a little girl to help mind Ella, ond this child seems just gentle enough for sucha Usk.''Yes,' said Mrs. Talbot musingly, but I ehoulil not want a etreet beg-gar." Your owa child may be, a street beggar soroe lime,' said Adelle, with startling eamestness. Besides, I do not believe this litile girl is accustomed to begging; if she was, she would not be so timid; and she did not have a great bisket, to be filled witli sorts of trash. She had a neat little basket which ehe carried under her arm, entirely concealed ly her shawl. She asked me, too, wiih such a low voice, hálf shrinking from the words as though they were new to her, and seemed so grateful that I filled her basket, that she might not have to go any where else.' 'You have so many romantic plans, Adelle,' replied Mrs. Talbot. Hhat I hardly know what to think; but you can make inquiries about this fiflrl if you wish, and if she is really half what you think, we will see what can be done fot her.'Alas for Adelle, as her sister had said, ehe had so many remantic plans, that her frieads seldom expected them to be carried. nlo action. She waeone of Ihoee gencrousera, who, if half the good deeds-they are con tinuaily proposing were perforraed, would be the most useful beings in the world. Yet it wasnot indolente which caysed this; itaeeraed rather the result ot a too active mmd, as if one impulso banished another before it had wrought out its fulfilment. Her thoughts were now filled with the good which she would do for the child, 'vho she fully bélieved had been directed of Heaven to her residence, that she might have the opportunity of usefulnesa. Already she imagined her growing up into a graceful and beautiful woman, with a cultivatcd mind and a hean endowed with all good gifts, and she meotally exclaimed, 'This is my reward.' The morrow came, and the liltle girl again appeared with her timid tones to plead for a littlecold victuals.' 'Are people kind to you when you ask them?' said Adelle, &h she filled the 'neat little ba&ket.' ?I nëver asked nny one but you,' said the child artlessly, and you gave me so much we did nat need any more.''And who does 'we' mean?' asked Adelle. 'Mother and I,' answered the child; bul moiher is sick now, so she cannot eat much, and she told me to come to the same place ogain, for you were so good to me. and she eaid some people inight be cross.' 'Wliat is your mother's name, mydear?' nquired Adelle, who was growinj; more interested than ever. 'Her name is mother, but when people used to corne and 6ee us, they used to cali her another name; I have forgotten now whatit was.' 'And do they not come to see you now? 'O, no,' raid the child, ;that was a long time ago, when we lived in the great house, and had plenty to eat without asking people for it. But why do. you not cali me Ellen? Mother calis me Eilen, and you speak softly to me just as ehe does.' The naaiden turned away to hide ihe tears that were starring into her eyes, but recovering herself by a etrong eflbrt she continued: 'And wliere do you live now, Ellen?' 'Down in Jones's alley. Do you knovv where Jones's alley is? We live in a Hule bit of a room up stairs. I wül show it to you if you wül come. Won't you come and see my motherl' 'Nut now, Ellen, perhaps I will come thia afternoon.''Well, I wül watch for you and show you the way . Do come, for you will speak sof'tJy to her too, and perhaps she will get well But why do you cry? You cry just like my mother, but you are not sick, are you? And you have not got any little girl that's cold and hungry.' Struggling with her ever impetuous feelngs, Adelle repeated the assurance that she vvould cotiie aud see her mother that afternooo, and the child departed. The door-beü rang, and a party of young friends entered. Adelle dried her tears, and bathing her eyes to hide all traces of such emotion, ran hastily up staire to receive her guests. 'Come, Adelle,' exclaimed one in a lively tone, 'make haste and put on your things. Wearegoing out to the 'Woodlands,' and you must come with as.' 'But I am engaged this afternoon, said Adelle. 'O, never talk of engageraents ; send a note of excuse. We cannot possibly do without you; and it is a lovely day, the carriage ie waiting, eo you may just get your boniiet and come along.'Adelie hesitated; it was a Btrong temptation. 'If you have no business of importance, sister, I think you had better go,' said Mrs. Talbot. 'I am a going to take Ella, and you know a day in the 'Woodlands' is not to be thrown away.' Adel Ie did not like to say that she was going to see the little girl and her mother- she wavered,- and with the thought, lt wjll do aa well to-morrow,' yielded. Alas, poor human nature. The next morning she waited long, hoping that Ellen wou ld make her nppearance, but she came not, and a violent shower furniehed sufficient reason for wating till another day. So true is it a duty once neglected, it is easy to aeglect it again. The next day, and the next passed, and Ellen came not.- Other pursuits and pleasuvee had Jessoned the impression which she had made upon Adelle'e volatile mind, and although cvery day she rully promised to go the next, yet every day she euffered a less excuse to detain her.A week had thus passed, when as she passed through Pifth street, betvveon Market and Arch, the word 'Jones's alley' met her eye The name at once awakened all her intereste for Jittle Ellen, and ske bent her steps down the narrow sidewallc. But hovv was she to find them? The words of the child, 'I will watch for you, and show you the vvay,' returned to her memory, and she almost wept to mm how many hours of watching and disappointment she might have experienced. She walked slowly throughthe alley, several times passing down 011e side and up the other, but ehecould seenothing to direct her. 'O, if I had only gone that day,' said she to harself, as her desire to find them increased with the difficulty.At length she summoned courage, and perseveringly iuquired at the door of every house, but no one could teil her any thmg of ÜttJe Ellen and her inother. 'So she was an impostor after all,' sighed she, as ehe turued away; and she va6 so pretty.'PART SECOND. Nearly a year had elapsed, when 8 party of gentlemen and ladies who were visiting the various public instilutions of the city, entered the House of Refuge. They had passed from one part of the building to another, peeping into thejjneat littic dormitories, admiring the beautiful flowers that were arranged in every window, exomining the various mechanical operations of the work-rooms, and at last found themeelves in the neat and weli ordered kitchen.'Wel!,' exclaimed one of the party, a Ijvely young maiden, who had been first to enter, 'here are waehing, boiling, ad baking, all performed by invisible agency, I must suppose, for there is no murtal in sight. Pray, sir,' added she, turning to their gentlemanly conductor, 'Is this room kept eo neat by the fairiesl' 'No, miss,' he replied smiling, it is the task of the girls to keep the house in order.' 'The girls,' replied shc in surprise, 'I thot' you had none but boys here.' 'it is true you have seen no others,' said he, 'for the girls ore much more sensitive tlian boys, and do not like to be seen by visitors. You sec they had all disappeared from tbis room before we eniered.' 'But cannot we see them?' inquired the lady.We do not generally show visitors through the aparimenls reserved for them, but they will soon go to dinner, and you can look into the eating-rooro, if you wish.' In a few moments the dinner bell rang, and footsteps were heard from the various rooms around, answering to the cal. 'This is the girls' eatingroom," eaid the conductor, leading the way to a spacious apartment in which long tables were spread with plain wholesome food, and the children neatly dreseed in uniform were arranged on each side. The Bmile passed from the maiden'B lip, and the color foded from her cheek, as a sweet child of seven or eight years sprang from ihe table with a slight cry of surprise, and grasping her frock exclaimed, 'O, why did you not come? - why did you not come? I watched for you, and watched for you, and you did not come'' Why did you not come to me again, my poor Ellen?' said Adelle, kneeling and folding her arms around the child, who now lay eobbing on her bosom. 'I watched for you so long,' sobbed she, 'till it was dark, and ia the mormng mother looked eo pa!e it frightened me. Then some cross people carne, and took her away, and a naughty woman carried me to her house, and told me to steal things. I did not like to do so, for mother used to teil me that it was wicked; but it was só far that I could not find y on, and she ,vas cross and beat me. So I used to go and ask for cold victuaie, and when they went to get any, I usad to take thing6 and run away. O, I canuot teil you all, butthey breught me here, and I was eo glad, for she did not come too , They are good pecple here,' added she in a low whisper, for they t&kccareof me, and do not look so hord at me; but they do not love me, as my mother did.' There is & sorrow that 'worketh repentanee,' and the deep remoree which Adelle bore Trom the House of Refuge had power to change thë framer of generous plans, into the doer of actual good . Yet long, very long afterwards, were her slumbers haunted by that anguish cry, O, why did you not come? - why did you not come? I watched for you, and you did not come!' Lancaster f Mass.


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