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say. But she shouldn't have worn a cap trimmed with red and yellow ribands for all that.”

“ It is late, ma'am,” said her distressed attendant, now fully resolved upon a change of topic, “and I must see you to your room forthwith."

“ You know best, Ruth,” returned her mistress meekly. well! that was a happy evening for me that brought you to Meadwaters : you have been unto me as a daughter.'

It was the last intelligible sentence she was heard to utter.

Mr. Rudkin survived her about a twelvemonth. One morning, when he found, or fancied, himself stronger than usual, he beckoned his faithful nurse to his side, and said cheerily

“ Ruth, I have left you poor, but not pennyless. There is a small annuity secured to you by my will. But remember well what I now say: you will not alivays fill a subordinate station. You are truthful, temperate, trustworthy, and grateful. When did God desert those who cherished such qualities ? Never! never! He is a Friend that faileth not, a Father who never forsaketh his children. There is a psalm that says as much ; I could repeat it once; but now

now I wonder that my memory fails me so strangely! it should not. Say the psalm over to me, Ruth; it has many calm, pleasant, and comforting words."

He listened as she spoke, smiled when she finished, and then, with an air of gentle reproof, observed

“ You don't read so loud as you used to do; you should speak out. Don't smother your voice, Ruth; it is always a pleasant voice to me, and has been for many, very many years. My blessing, Ruth, go with you, tarry where you may.”

He fell, a few moments afterwards, into a gentle slumber, which at midday became the sleep of death.

No will could be found. That such a document had been formally drawn up and duly executed, there was ample proof; but no search, however minute and persevering, could discover its resting-place. A distant relative, as heir at law, claimed, and successfully, the little all that Mr. Rudkin left behind him. He was a bill-discounter; and resolutely negatived the many representations made to him on Ruth's behalf.

“What had he to do with her ? ” was his line of argument. “He had never seen her before in his life! What claim had she upon him? People told him she was destitute ; he didn't believe it. She had laid up ample store for herself, he was confident, during the many years she had lived with this old couple. If he was wrong, the greater fool she. She should have foreseen a rainy day, and have feathered her nest accordingly; but, be it as it would, not one stiver should she get from him. He wanted all, every sixpence, that the old man's effects would realize ; he wanted to throw it into his business.”

O rare muckworm! glorious type of thy class! When had the sworn slave of Mammon, when had he ever, or under any circumstances, sympathy, consideration, or compassion, for those around him?

CHAPTER XLIX,

THE KNAVIEH TREASURER OF A POPULAR CHARITY,

As thistles wear the softest down,
To hide their prickles till they 're grown,
And then declare themselves, and tear
Whatever ventures to come near ;
So a smooth knave does greater feats
Than one that idly rails and threats,
And all the mischief that he meant

Does, like the rattle-snake, prevent.—BUTLER. MERCIFULLY it is ordered by the beneficent Ruler of the universe that no heart, however stung by unmerited wrong, or crushed by unexpected oppression, shall be barred from the indulgence of hope. The Great Arbiter of events is no capricious tyrant; He holds out the bitter potion of despair to none - not even to the most forlorn and feeble of his creatures. Continually, when one field of honourable exertion is wrought out, or must be abandoned, his goodness delights to open unexpectedly to the humble and the hopeful another, and a brighter, and a fairer.

That Ruth was bitterly disappointed, mourned over the disappearance of the will, and felt most keenly the ungenerous treatment which the grasping kinsman of her late master meted out to her, was undeniable. Some small legacy, some faint approach towards independence, she had fully anticipated from the old Vicar's kindness and language. That hope had become visionary. Protection from that quarter had terminated. Who would now assist her? Where had she now a friend? Where? Her own conduct had been silently securing one,

-one who had watched her narrowly,--one who abhorred professions, but was prepared to come to her rescue in the hour of extremity.

Dr. Watkinson, Mr. Rudkin's medical attendant, had noted, with cordial approval, the devoted attachment with which Ruth had nursed her aged protectors ; and had felt commensurate chagrin at the manner in which her cares had been repaid. The moment he ascertained that she had nothing to hope for from the heir-at-law, he called upon the disappointed and desolate woman, and kindly inquired, “What were her future plans.”

“None,” was Ruth's reply,—"none beyond obtaining some respectable situation with as little delay as possible ; but where this is to be met with, and through whose friendly recommendation, are matters of painful uncertainty."

“ Then I will terminate it by announcing my errand. In the infirmary at there is at present a vacancy for a nurse. We wish I am now speaking of my medical brethren as well as of myself — to secure the services of a person in whom we can place thorough confidence; whose habits we know to be temperate ; and whose previously ascertained principles assure us that we may rely on all her statements. She must be able to bear confinement, and practise considerable selfdenial; must carry out our orders kindly and firmly; endure much waywardness from the patients, and constant scrutiny from the matron. Such is the situation ; now, would you like to hear any further details respecting it?"

“Unquestionably," was Ruth's ready reply.

“ The remuneration attached to the office is liberal, and is augmented after five years' service. Nor is this all; the party, after the lapse of years, becomes entitled to a small retiring pension. I don't describe the post as agreeable; but it seems to me one from your habits, experience, and education, that you are suited to till; and I fancy that I have sufficient influence with the committee to obtain it. It is true your age is against you ; but that disadvantage each recurring day will diminish. In fact, you look several years older than you are ; and the gravity and quietude of your manners keep up the delusion. Now say—for the morning wears, and I have some distance to ride,—whether, if I can procure you this appointment, you will accept it, and eater at once upon its duties?”

“Most thankfully!" returned Ruth.

Then further discussion is needless; and now," added he, as he rose, and took his leave, with a cheerful smile, “ make the most of your holidays; for they are on the point of closing!”

Dr. Watkinson had not over-estimated his influence when he intimated to Ruth his persuasion that he could procure for her the vacant appointment. His recommendation was received by the House Committee with the attention which his years, experience, and services deserved ; and his gratified protégée received a speedy summons to the city of -, to preside as nurse in “ The Casualty Ward" of its celebrated infirmary.

Here, as elsewhere, the peculiar features of her character arrested attention, and insured respect. The patients liked her because she was “never out of temper;" was never “ too busy" to shift an uneasy pillow, or moisten the parched lips; never “snubbed " them ; never ordered them — as is the case with certain finished specimens of humanity –to lie still, and be quiet!when they were racked with torture ; never told them, she“ knew better : there was nothing at all the matler with them! when every nerve was quivering with agony. Oh! how the progress towards recovery may be speeded or retarded by a nurse! With the surgeons she found favour, because she attended strictly to their instructions,—neither slurred them over nor exceeded them. The matron applauded her, because she was habitually temperate; was never found“ clondy,” or “dozy,” or “confused,” or “unaccountably stupid,” as was the case at intervals with all the other nurses under her control. And the waspish house-surgeon lavishly commended her because her" hearing was remarkably quick," and she "never gave him the trouble to repeat his directions."

Altogether Nurse Dangerfield was a popular person.

For two years she had maintained her giddy position, when one September morning a strange report became rife within the hospital that the house committee had resolved on Nurse Dangerfield's immediate dismissal, as “a censorious and impracticable woman.”

And Nurse Dangerfield admitted the report to be well-founded! There seemed on her part no mystification about the matter. She calmly avowed that she retained her present post simply till her successor could be appointed. But why and wherefore?

Among the various functionaries connected with the hospital was the treasurer-a Mr. Peter Pennethorne. He was a very exact man ; preached economy on all occasions; and was frightfully eloquent on the theme of a frugal expenditure of public money. Mrs. Coucher, the matron, abliorred the very sight of him; and certainly the

manner in which he overhauled her grocer's bill, and descanted on the many ounces of tea consumed at her table, was not calculated to conciliate the affections of that very tenacious personage. Mrs. Coucher averred and certainly she ought on such a point to be deemed “an established authority,” that “weak tea did not agree with her!"

Mr. Pennethorne did not believe it; and for ten long years had been trying to persuade her to the contrary.

To this distracted lady's wrongs were added those of Mr. Quench, the tall, gaunt, cadaverous-looking dispenser in the surgery. Mr. Quench, who had the complexion of a confirmed invalid, and, unhappily, the appetite of a railway labourer, always declared that his post was one surrounded with difficulties and disagreeables, — so much so, that he could not possibly get through his duties without "a regular nooning" at eleven o'clock. This snack consisted of a captain's biscuit, a glass of tolerably strong ale, and a “mossel ” of prime Gloucester, double Cottenham, or Stilton, — the dispenser was not “particular to a shade!” With these "

With these "noonings " Mr. Pennethorne waged an unholy war. The

very

mention of them made him irascible. He described the wretched Mr. Quench as "the most expensive public servant” he had ever met with. He descanted on the “packets of biscuits” and “pounds of cheese" consumed by the voracious dispenser with a vehemence and severity that made Airs. Coucher "nervous," and Mr. Quench “savage.” The latter, after one of these inflictions, was heard to declare that his habits were peaceful, his views peaceful, his profession peaceful ; but that the Old Adam was strong within him;" and that, if he “ever did commit murder, it would be on the person of Peter Pennethorne !"

But while by the subordinates the treasurer was regarded with a hate far exceeding “players' hatred," he was in high odour with the magnates - the patron, vice-patrons, and president. His health was duly toasted at each succeeding anniversary. The most laudatory epithets were applied to his name. He was pronounced to be a most watchful and jealous guardian of the revenue of the hospital. The administration of its finances was declared to be “perfect ;" and the credit of such a position-rare in public charities—was ascribed mainly to the untiring assiduity of its indefatigable treasurer. It was related of him that on one occasion he sat up three nights in succession, to detect an error of fourpence farthing in some complicated “bill delivered !” He was pronounced a “ Joseph Hume in private life;" the most accurate of accountants, and the most incorruptible steward a public charity was ever blessed with !

To all which compliments, when repeated at the hospital, Mrs. Coucher replied with a groan; and that audacious varlet, Mr. Quench,

- the “ most expensive of public servants,"— with the impertinent monosyllable “Fudge !"

But the Pennethorne star was in the ascendant; and the treasurer's step was more solemn, and his air of lofty virtue more imposing than

Among other objects which claimed his care were two alms-boxes, placed within the building, near the main door, and broken open annually on Michaelmas day by the treasurer's own hands. It happened on one eventful Michaelmas that Nurse Dangerfield had occasion to search for lint in a closet, the window of which commanded a thorough view of the board-room wliere Mr. Pennethorne was then sit

ever.

ting. He was alone, but busily employed; and some undefinable impulse induced the nurse to watch him.

How she could venture to intrude on the privacy of such a virtuous being as Peter Pennethorne perplexed many. But, daring as was the deed, she achieved it!

The treasurer leisurely unscrewed each box ; and then minutely scrutinized its produce as he spread the coin upon the table. Ruth's keen gaze detected a great many pence and half-pence, a few shillings, and—what attracted her eye by its colour,-a bright, new sovereign. This she saw the lauded functionary pounce upon, examine closely, bold up to the light, as if desirous to ascertain whether it was counterfeit, and then deliberately consign to the custody of his pocket.

“A strange proceeding!” thought Nurse Dangerfield; “ marvellous in a steward of a public charity! I must report this affair to my superior."

The face of Mrs. Coucher when listening to Ruth's communication would have formed a study for Wilkie. Astonishment -- incredulity - alarm, - abhorrence, all were pictured in the matron's perplexed and furrowed visage. At length she gasped forth,

“ The end of the world is at hand-it must be-since matters have come to this pass !"

“ Possibly!” returned Ruth ; “but, in the meantime we must act. Now, will you accompany me while I go down at once to the boardroom ; tell the treasurer what I have seen, and hear his explanation ?"

The matron paused.

“ Child,” said she anxiously, “are you sure: are you positive as to the fact ? May you not have been deceived ?"

I could not."

“It is a tremendous charge to make: ruin to him if it be true: ruin to you if it be false.”

I am sensible of that.”
“He is crafty, rich, and has many friends."
“Granted."

“Besides,” continued her aged adviser earnestly, “your story is unsupported. You have no witness. It is on a single testimony that this strange accusation rests.”

“ No more.”
“ Then, would not the wisest course be silence ?"

“No!” exclaimed Ruth, “my line of conduct is plain. I have to unmask a hypocrite. I will spare no effort to do so, and abide the consequences.

Then forward !” said her agitated companion; "and God defend the right!"

The treasurer was seated in state at the table, with his ledger, cashbook, and banker's account before him when his visitors entered. He looked up at each sharply and angrily, as if surprised at their appearance, and demanding the reason of their intrusion. The elder woman trembled ; Ruth looked deadly pale, but her voice was steady when she said, "I was at that closet window, sir,” and she pointed to it,"

a few minutes since; and I saw you open those alms-boxes.”

“Well ?"
“ I observed you spread their contents upon the table.”

“ Well?" This second ejaculation was uttered in a somewhat testy tone.

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