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“An arm of aid to the weak,
A friendly hand to the friendless—
Kind words so short to speak,
But whose echo is endless.
The world is wide—these things are small—
They may be nothing, but they may be all.”

I come to you for advice, Mr. Lisle,” said the agent of
a rich landlord to Archibald. “One of our tenants is refractory.
I think the man is half crazy; he has been punctual
till last quarter-day, but now he has thrown up work,
and I doubt if he ever works again. I hate to be harsh with
the old soul, especially as he has a slip of a girl—a modest,
simple child she seems, though she may be sixteen; and
what is worst of all in her case, she is a beauty, no mistake
—and no friend to look to but him, except a purblind old
maid, who has all she can do to make up her own rent. She
lives in the same house; she is getting aged, and depends
on her needle. It's devilish hard work, this getting rents
out of poor, hard-working people. I wish Mr. Alton would
try collecting his own rents one year; I think he would feel
his own roof-tree to stand firmer for a little easing to others.
But my duty must be done.”

“Well, Macy, what is it you want of me?” asked Lisle,
whose heart was not crushed out of him by two years' devotion—since
we last met him—to pressing and repressing the
sordid claims of man.


Page 103

“That's just it. I want you to go with me to Mott-street
and examine the man, and see if we had not best get a permit
for him to go to the pauper insane asylum. He is a foreigner,
and has no one to look to but the public.”

“And what is to become of his child?”

“She can get a place, probably—she may go to the alms-house
in the mean while.”

“There should be room enough in the world for the poor
thing,” thought Lisle, and silently deliberating how that
room could be found, or made, he forthwith went with
Macy to Mott-street. They reached the house tenanted by
Manning, and paused on its broken step.

“Stop a minute, Mr. Lisle,” said Macy, “and observe this
tenement as we go into it, and you will not wonder that I
detest my business. I have the renting of fifty such, more
or less. Look at those crazy windows, rattling in this cold,
gusty wind. It is enough to tear to pieces the nerves of
the poor, half-mad man up stairs. There are five tenants,
all decent, rent-paying people, in this house—not a comfort
nor a convenience in it. The tenants are obliged to lug
their water by the pail from the next hydrant, up a dark
and steep staircase, the balustrade of which is liable to give
way any day. Each apartment must have its wretched
cooking-stove, and there is only a common receptacle for
the fuel of all, which leads to innumerable controversies
among the decent tenants, and fights among the worst of
them. The walls are dirty and ragged, and the floors are
broken. Observe for yourself. I have mentioned the subject
again and again to Mr. Alton, but, Lord bless you! he
does not think of it again—not he, in his palace with all the
`modern improvements,' heated with steam, lighted with
gas, with dumb-waiters and speaking-pipes, and frescoed
walls, and floors covered with imperial carpets—how should
it ever occur to him that the same Maker who `fashioned


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him in the womb' fashioned his poor tenants, and fashioned
them with members as delicate as his? I wish I were Mr.
Alton, or any other rich landlord! You smile, Mr. Lisle;
you are thinking I would not do better than the rest of

Lisle did smile rather sadly, as he replied, “There is a
vast deal of self-delusion indicated in those common phrases,
`if I were you,' and `if I were he.' But,” he added, looking
in Macy's kind, open face, “I am ashamed, if I implied
distrust of you. There is a difference in landlords.”

“That's a fact, Mr. Lisle. I know some landlords who
are building and repairing, with as much of an eye to the
tenant's advantage as their own; that's what I call `live,
and let live.' But come, we must go ahead.”

They entered the house, mounted the first flight of stairs,
passed Martha Young's open door, and were groping their
way round the dark passage to the second staircase, when
they heard terrific shrieks in the attic, and a door, at the top
of the second stairs, was thrown open, and Jessie, followed
by her raving father, half sprang, half fell down the stairs.
The crazy balustrade gave way at the pressure of her
slight weight. Lisle caught her in his arms, and while Macy
struggled with the madman, he carried her, half fainting and
nearly unconscious, into Martha Young's room, and then,
without waiting to hear Martha's broken explanations, and
piteous lamentations over her, he returned to Macy's aid.

Manning resisted for some time, with the preternatural
strength of insanity; but it was soon exhausted, and he
sunk to the floor, his incoherent raving ceased; he was
breathless and impotent.

Lisle and Macy carried him to his room. Animation soon
returned, with a senseless chattering, and tearless sobs. Martha
was summoned. She said that for the last three months
“he had been failing, getting more and more `out;' and for


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the last month he had not done a stroke of work, and had
not eaten enough to keep a fly alive; and, as to poor, dear
little Jessie,” Martha said, “she has not eaten much more,
only the crumbs, as you may say—she and Beau—that fell
from my poor table. This morning Manning's employer
came to look after him, and seeing how it was, he took away
all his work, and missing some stones, that the poor man
may have dropped in the ashes, he took off his tools. Jessie
says this seemed to wake her father up, and all of a sudden,
when he heard your footsteps, a flash came over him, and
the poor child, scared out of her wits, was flying to me,
when, by the mercifulest Providence that ever happened,
you saved her, sir, from falling to the very bottom-floor of
the house, and saved the beautifulest, best little soul that
ever was sent into this hard-going world, sir.”

Lisle mentally assented to the “beautifulest,” from the
mere glance he had had of the lovely creature whom he had
so strangely rescued from impending death. He offered to
remain to guard Manning, while Macy went off to attend to
the proper formalities and means of his removal to the asylum
for insane paupers on Blackwell's Island, there being
now no further question as to the propriety of his bestowment

In the mean time he learned all that Martha could tell him
of Jessie's story, and that was no more than our readers already
know, for though two years have passed since their
first introduction to her, nothing could be more uniform,
more eventless than her secluded life. The two years that
had perfected her beauty, had brought poor Martha two
years further into the decline and diminished light of waning
life. Her father still lived, far gone into second childhood,
and still patiently and most kindly provided for. “Here I
stand,” she concluded her account of herself and her protégé
to Lisle, “a failing creatur—on one side of me the


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poor mouldering trunk of a tree that I once leaned against,
and on the other, this little blossoming vine that clings to
poor old me, and has no other earthly thing to cling to.”

“But, my good friend,” said Lisle, who had learned from
Martha her small and abating means of gaining her living,
“she must have other support;” and after a few moments
of consideration, he added, “Keep her with you, she can
not have a kinder friend;” and taking out his purse, he continued,
“I will pay you her board in advance for a month,
and continue to pay it till she can be better provided for.”

A deep crimson spread over Martha's pale old cheeks.
“No—sir!” she said, with a pause between the words, and
a decided emphasis on both; “put up your purse, sir. You
look displeased; you need not, for I don't mistrust you in
the least, sir. I see written on your face—and any one that
can read any thing can read it—the `further commandment'
and the best of all. But, sir, though I don't know much
that's going on t' other side of these four walls, yet I do
know New York ain't a district where a handsome young
creatur can be boarded out by a young gentleman, without
it being turned up against her some time or other.”

“My good woman, who is to know it but you and I?”

“That's one too many,” answered Martha, with a smile.
“My father, poor old man, for as childish as he is now, was
wise in his day, and he used to say, if you want to spread
news, tell it to one woman, and you give it wings. No use in
talking, sir. I have been turning over a plan for this pretty
little dear, for a long while, and when one door shuts, another
opens, sir. I can get as much work as both her and I
can do, and though my hands have come to a trembling, and
my eyes are a failing, yet I can teach her; and when the
time comes that must come, I can get her a sempstress' place
with one of my families. My old father can't be spared
much longer, but then I sha'n't be left altogether destitute;


Page 107
I shall have something to love, and that will love me, and I
suppose you know that to love and be loved is pretty much
all there is to live for. There is poor little Jessie—you
should see her with her dog—it's her all—the world—

The poor old woman would have run on, for the sluices of
her heart were opened, and she had found a willing and
admiring listener, but she was interrupted by the slow timid
opening of the door, and Jessie, white as a snow-flake, and
as noiseless, fluttered in.

She shuddered as she looked at her father, and dropping
her head on Martha's shoulder, she sighed out, “How is he
now, Miss Martha?”

“Just as you see, dear, as one may say; nothing now—
no thoughts—no feelings—shattered to bits—but cheer up,
little dear! `the world is his who has patience.' His poor
dying body will be cared for; he is to be taken where he
will be kindly looked after.”

Jessie raised her eyes bashfully to Lisle, and an effluence
of consolation seemed to proceed from his benignant countenance.
Her anxious look changed to the sweet peace of a
child that is assured of all it wants.

“I have never seen any one half so beautiful as this child-girl,”
thought Lisle. “A'n't my plan prudent?” asked
Martha, smiling at Archibald's involuntary gaze; and when he
emphatically assented, she added, “but some things are set
off by other things; the prettiest flower I ever did see,
grew up and hung over the side of an old stump of a tree,
covered with weather marks and black moss.” Poor Martha's
symbol of herself was as just as it was unwomanly;
nor was there any ground-swell of vanity, when Lisle said,
with a smile, “I understand you.”

Before the new acquaintance parted that day, Archibald
again proffered aid in a mode he thought unquestionable.


Page 108
“You will allow me, my friend,” he said to Martha, “to
leave a small sum for your father?”

“No, sir. May be you know, sir, the pride and comfort
of earning independent bread, and a sharing it with parents
or the like; if you do, you'll excuse me—that's all my life,
sir!” Archibald had known fully that pride and comfort;
and the gifted and successful young lawyer felt a hearty
sympathy with the poor old sempstress, and felt, as he returned
his pursue to his pocket, that they had a community
of imperishable goods.

“I hope you won't think me proud, sir!” continued
Martha. “May be I am, though, for pride has many faces,
and one may well grow proud that has always the privilege
of doing. Any way, sir, I am thankful to you, and if ever I
need help, I'll prove it by first asking it of you.”

The fancies of an idle young man might have been haunted
by the beautiful image of Jessie Manning, but, as our readers
know, Archibald Lisle was not an idle young man, and besides,
his imagination was so pre-possessed by one image that
all other impressions were trivial and transient. The passage
in Mott-street was a mere parenthesis in his life, and
was soon followed by such new and varied scenes that it
passed into utter oblivion.

Lisle felt it to be a most unmanly folly to yield to a passion
he believed hopeless, and he had, for the blank years in
our narrative, abstained from every place where he should
probably meet Grace Herbert. He devoted himself unremittingly
to his business. He allowed himself no variety
and no relaxation, and in the year following his visit to
Mott-street, he met the necessary consequences of too severe
application to business without any interval of recreation,
or social refreshment. The mind can no more bear unvaried
and unintermitted work, than the body can endure a strain


Page 109
on one set of muscles. Lisle became ill, and his illness took
the perilous form of typhus fever. It was when he was at
the worst, and when his two devoted friends, Walter Herbert
and Esterly, had given strict orders to his nurse that no
one, on any pretext, should be admitted to him, that poor
old Martha Young, much aged since we last saw her, begged
with sorrowful earnestness to be permitted to speak with
Mr. Lisle, and when denied and told of his fearful illness, she
turned away murmuring, “It's always just so! it never rains
but it pours!”

Walter Herbert watched over Lisle with the vigilant
tenderness of a parent. Dinners were forgone, his wine
scarcely tasted, half his daily luxury of cigars forgotten;
and when he had the unexpected happiness of seeing his
friend fairly convalescing, he was, as he said, as light-hearted
as a boy. “Upon my word, Archy,” he said, “I can hardly
help telling the people in the street, whether I know them
or not, that you are getting well!”

“That I am, is owing to you,” replied Lisle, in a tone that
answered feebly to Uncle Walter's exulting voice. “You, I
believe, have saved my life.”

“Saved your life! Lord, man—I can't even keep the
blue devils away from you; the best of us are good for
nothing at a sick-bed—the women are the angels—the
conjurers there. Why, Archy, if it were not for the pain,
it would be a luxury for me to have a fit of the gout,
for Eleanor to brew my possets, and Grace to caress,
and amuse me. Lisle, you do not begin to know that
girl. You have only seen her in the drawing-room, where,
for the matter of knowing the variety, the power, the
sweetness, the divine nature of such a woman as Grace,
why, you might as well look at her full-length picture.”
Uncle Walter had no design in opening the flood-gates of his
heart. He had only obeyed an impulse, but he had opened


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them, and it was hard to shut them. However, he did shut
them, saying, “I am talking too much—your color comes
and goes like a nervous woman's, while I am running on in
this way. But you are gaining, my boy, and you will come

But Lisle did not “come round;” and the food supplied
to his fancies by Uncle Walter's perpetual recurrence to his
favorite, did not help him to “come round.” He was weak,
and fretted like a child, by seeing an unattainable good
placed in the most glowing lights perpetually before his

Week after week of tedious convalescence wore away, if
that might be called convalescence, where there was neither
vigor of body nor cheerfulness of mind—no approach to
sound health. The doctor shook his head and said there
was nothing for it but for his patient to give up his anxiety
to return to his office—to abandon it altogether, and to go
abroad for a year's rest and recreation. His two friends
seconded the suggestion, Walter Herbert vehemently—
“There is no use, Archy,” he said, “in fighting the blue
devils here. You must go abroad; there is reason in the
old superstition, that this sort of gentry can't cross the
water.” Lisle answered with a faint smile. He thought it
would be far easier to eject a legion of blue devils, than to
drive out the one angel that had entered in, and taken possession
of mind and heart. He assented, however, to the
reasons of his friends, and deciding to run the fearful risk
of suspending his business for a time, he arranged his affairs,
and reluctantly diverted to his foreign expenses the earnings
he had set apart to build his father a new house.

“Shall I bring Eleanor and Grace with me to the ship,
to-morrow morning, Lisle, to bid you good-bye?” asked
Uncle Walter.


Page 111

“Oh, yes!” he answered; but after a moment's pause
added, in a faint tone, “No—no—you had best not. I am
miserably weak, and shall need all my manhood to part
from you and Esterly.” The next day he sailed for Havre.