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“The eyes smiled, too;
But 'twas as if remembering they had wept,
And knowing they should some day weep again.”

In the attic room of a crowded tenement, in an obscure
but decent quarter of our great city, sat a middle-aged man,
working at the jeweler's trade, ill provided with the means
and appliances of his craft, but working ingeniously, and by
fits, with almost supernatural rapidity and effect. One seeing
him in these, his best hours, would have taken him for a
patient and hopeful craftsman; but suddenly he would stop
his work, throw back his head, make wild gestures, and turn
his eyes, brighter than any gem he wrought, upon a young
girl who sat on a low chair beside him, performing tasks he
assigned her—now sorting precious stones, and then rubbing
them by the hour, as if the pressure of her delicate fingers
could polish their hard surfaces. She asked no questions—
he had long ago put an end to all hope of relief from that
childish instinct—but day after day, weary month after weary
month, she did his wayward bidding with a gentle assiduity
that sprang from a femininely submissive nature. The child,
for child she still seemed, though in her sixteenth year, was
most of all bewildered by her father's fits of fondness, when
he would snatch her to his bosom and pour showers of tears
over her, and then sink for hours into a state of death-like


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She had but a feeble comprehension of the singularity of
her fate. She had been five years shut up in this attic with
her monomaniac father, never leaving it excepting for a dismal
walk in the twilight with him, covered with a double
veil, and running to keep up with his long and hasty strides.
No doubt the pair sometimes excited curiosity, even amid
the egotistic crowd of our thronged city; but the natural
conclusion was, that the child so cautiously veiled, so seemingly
dragged along, was either blind or defaced. Blind!
defaced! Never were eyes more perfect than Jessie Manning's;
perfect in their lustrous violet blue, long dark lashes,
and all perfecting accessories. Her features were symmetrical,
and of the most femininely delicate order of beauty.
Her complexion gave no indication of the happy robustness
of her English nativity; but it had the delicate American
hue, so fondly cherished by our town and (shame to them!)
country-bred girls, not like Jessie deprived of the benign
agencies of nature by insane tyranny; a hue as fleeting as
the bloom on the fruit, or the tint of the rose, and which is
sure, at the first strain of life, to fade into a pale, sickly,
parchment-like color. Happy and rare the native beauty
that escapes this fearful and sudden transition.

We wonder that a lovely flower should bloom and die
unseen; but we wonder more that the gift of beauty is as
perilous as it is often useless—that gift which is visibly impressed
with the perfecting touch of the Creator, which is
the garment of paradise, the vestment of angels. Poor
Jessie was an exception to the fact, that “if women be but
young and fair, they have the gift to know it.” The little
prisoner was as unconscious as a flower that blooms and dies
in an unexplored prairie. She had one friend, Martha Young,
a kind old maiden, who, with a superannuated father, lived
on the floor under Manning; and one other friend, the
dearest thing in life to her, her only companion and play-fellow,


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the only living creature who seemed to understand
her, and answer to her, who was blended with the memories
of her childhood, happy in a mother's presence and love.
This creature, a loving little spaniel of the King Charles
breed, was always at her side, sleeping or waking; to him,
her “darling Beau,” she talked freely, laughed when he was
tricksome, and—for nature will have an outlet—did her
romping with him, when her father fell into the death-like
sleeps that followed his feverish wakeful nights. Nature
takes her dues with a stern hand.

It was during one of these blessed oblivions of Manning,
and in the midst of a gambol with Beau, that the door was
cautiously opened by Martha, who well knew how to interpret
the noise over her head. The fairies' visits were not
more welcome to Cinderella, than Martha's to her protégé.
The appearance of that coarse-featured face, and grizzled head
was sunshine to Jessie's heart.

“I knew he was in one of his sleeps,” said Martha, nodding
her head toward Manning, “and so I just run up to
bring you some calves'-head jell Madam Copley sent to
father; it's healthy, dear—none of your boughten stuff, made
out of nobody knows what. Madam Copley has the best
of every thing, and she is good to the poor, especially to
father, that was brought up in her father's house, and spent
his well days, and strong days there, and people thinks the
family ought to support him now, but I don't; rich folks
can't do every thing, and besides, I think—I hope I ain't
proud—that the bread I earn is sweeter, and somehow more
nourishing to us both, than if rich folks gave it; but Jessie,
dear, how I am running on.”

“I love to hear you, Miss Martha.”

“Bless you, poor little dear! that's 'cause you are lonesome,
and hear nobody else, for I never was any thing to
talk; I can do, pretty well, but my strength is rather a failing,


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and if it should give out before father dies!” Martha's
eyes filled with tears. “Well,” she continued, “I won't
borrow trouble, that's a mistrusting o' Providence.”

“Please sit down, Miss Martha,” said Jessie, tenderly laying
her hand on the old woman's arm, and drawing a chair
toward her.

“Oh, no, little dearie, no, he might wake sudden, and
then there'd be a—” row, she would have added, but Martha
had old-fashioned notions of filial respect, obedience, etc.,
and she swallowed the “row,” and said, “a disturbance;
poor man! I think he is a little out.”

“A little what, Miss Martha?” asked Jessie, and looked
up eagerly, as if catching at the solution of a mystery.

“Oh, never mind, dearie! go on in your obedient, patient
ways with him, and you'll have your reward—remember
the only commandment with promise.”

“I don't know what you mean, Miss Martha.”

“Why, poor little dear, don't you know your commandments?”

“No, I think I don't know any thing.”

“Then they are written in a 'raculous way on the table
of your heart, as the ministers say, for I'm sure you keep
them; but, Jessie, you know how to read?”

“Yes, I remember my mother used to say I could read
as well as she could, when I was five years old, and I had
lots of pretty books at home. I have none here.”

“But I often hear you reading?”

“Yes, in father's books—to him—all day, sometimes, but
I don't understand them, and he don't explain them, and I
think he often does not hear them; only when I am very
tired, and stop, he bids me go on.”

“Let me look at them,” said Miss Martha, and putting on
her spectacles, she examined the title-pages of half a dozen
sceptical or atheistical books lying on the table; they were


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Greek to her, and, happily, on subjects quite beyond her

“They seem to be a kind o' religious reading,” she said,
“but I guess they are dry and odd;” in his way, she added,
mentally. “Well, if he won't dislike it, dearie, I can get
you lots of tracts at Mrs. Copley's. She's bountiful of tracts.
But I must not stay; and, oh, dear, how forgetful I am
growing! here's this rose that I have been watching, and
nursing for you two weeks, and now it is not fully out. I
had like to have carried it away.”

“I am so glad you did not; thank you, Miss Martha. Is
not Miss Martha kind, Beau?”

“La, me! how he wags his tail, as if he sensed every word
you speak.”

“He does, Miss Martha, if I look at him when I speak, or
just call his name.” Happy faith, Jessie.

“Poor little doggy! I wonder if I can find something for
you” said old Martha, and rummaging to the lowest depths
of an almost fathomless pocket, she drew out a cake. “There
you are!” she said, giving it to Jessie for her pet. “I somehow
almost always providentially find a trifle in my pocket,
just when it's wanted. I bought that, yesterday, of the poor
old soul that sits at the corner. She had sot all day out in
the cold fog. She thanked me for the bare penny I spent
on her, and now, you are thanking me again—a penny goes
a great ways. I should not have been so lucky as to have
that penny, only a lady took five pence off my work, for it
not being done as well as usual. My eyes is a failing,” continued
Martha, with a deep sigh, “that's a fact! When I
sit alone, Jessie, a sewing, and a sewing, and a moralizing, I
think to myself, Poor folks are favored about some things.
If we do a kindness, or give ever so little, it's like falling
dew, it don't make no noise, but it's nourishing, and your
rich Pharisees may come down with gold in showers, and


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they kind o' roll off, and leave a scar, or a barren spot.
But all rich folks aren't Pharisees, Jessie. I know them
that's like the early and latter rain, and the clear shining of
the sun after it.”

Jessie probably understood old Martha, in spite of her
somewhat parabolical style, for nestling close to her, and
patting Beau, who was eating the cake by crumbs from
her white dimpled hand—a neat savory little dish—she
said, “Yes, Miss Martha, it's so pleasant when you come
into our room, and Beau and I love you; don't we, Beau?”
Beau replied with a conclusive wag, and Martha departed,
inhaling her own “dews.”

Every creature who lives a true life, belongs to the cloud
of heavenly witnesses. Among these, we claim to enroll Martha
Young, for she was an actuality—an honest reality in a
world of shams and shadows. She was an “old maid,” and
lived and died without the bribes and recompenses with which
Providence has seen fit to strew the beaten road of matrimony.
Martha had the pleasing consciousness that her single
life was her choice, for though she had never, even in her
youth, charmed the outward eye, she had been twice sought
in marriage by thriving tradesmen, worldly-wise widowers.
Martha shook her head, and said, she “did not feel like
leaving the old folks.” Both parents were then living, and
both mainly dependent on her toils for their livelihood, and
wholly dependent on her presence for their happiness. So
she toiled on; and being a skilled sempstress, and having rich
employers, and being in her own person a stern economist,
she kept, as she said, “the springs and hinges oiled,” and life
glided smoothly. Martha was as happy in her place—and
for the same reason—as the Roman emperor, whose day
was never without its good deed. She was eyes to the
blind, and crutches to the lame, and she watched with the
poor sick, who felt her cheery presence like the letting in of


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fresh air and sunshine. But to Martha, as to most of us,
came the time when “the windows were darkened,” when
her eyes began to grow dim, and her over-tasked hands to
tremble. “I don't look for'ard,” was her favorite declaration;
“I'm in good hands, and I ain't afeard.” It was simply
said, but it expressed a Christian's faith, full of peace.

“Well, Beau, darling,” said Jessie, after Miss Martha had
retired, as she still sat feeding the little spaniel, and stroking
his long silky ears, “you and I have it pleasant sometimes,
don't we? Wait a minute, pet, till I put my rose in
water—there now. Oh, how sweet it is! If poor father
would only notice it when he awakes. He used to love to
give me flowers. I remember when he used to bring me
such big bunches of moss-rose buds from Covent Garden
market. Poor father!” she fixed her dove-like eyes tenderly
upon him—“he is not like that now. What did he bring
me away for? Mother was so sweet and pretty, and father
was so merry and laughing. He never laughs now—
never—never!” The brimming tears swelled over, and
dropped on the little spaniel's upturned face; he started. “Oh,
never mind, pet, we can't help crying sometimes, you know.
Don't you remember, Beau, father's great shop, full of
such handsome things! and that pretty sign with the silver
candlesticks, `Manning, Leason, & Co.?' You do—you
wag your clever little tail! And don't you remember that
dreadful day he came home and said, `I'm ruined! I'm
ruined! Leason is a—.' Oh he spoke such words, I can't
say them to you, Beau. And then, when he came home in
the evening, and Mr. Leason was there. That was the
horrid time! He was angry with mother; and he said the
maid told him Mr. Leason kissed mother, and he struck him,
and there was a fight—and mother caught me in her arms
and ran up stairs, and you came after, yelping and barking.
Oh it was so horrid! And the very next day it was that he


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crammed his clothes and mine into a trunk, and he took me
off in a carriage; and you came running after, you dear
good little fellow, through all London streets, and away to
the place where a great ship was just sailing for New York;
and you sprang into the little boat they rowed us to the ship
in—but we did not think he would keep us away from poor
mother forever, and forever—did we, Beau?” The poor
child laid her head, as she had done a hundred times before,
after a like soliloquy, on Beau's neck and wept, while her
little companion looked wistfully in her face, now and then
uttering a low sympathetic yelp.

Jessie has indicated all that she knew of her sad story, and
all that we know of it up to this time, except that Manning
had continued in this wretched attic for five years, under
the visitation of a hopeless monomania.