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THE CHIMNEY CORNER.

ROMANCE OF A JANITRESS. More than a year ago I put the last stone upon the wall that I had built between my old life and my present one. It was well built, firm and unyielding, of earth made out of clay with tears so burning and bitter that I thought the fount fiom which they came was dry forever more. But ah ! the day came when the whole barrier fell away and crumbled into dust at the magic hand of memory, and I was sobbing and crying as if my heart would break over the feelings brought into life by the sound of a sweet young voice singing “ Rock me to sleep mother.” The. words, “ Make me a child again, just for one night,” razed to the ground the work of months —the big house, the city full, faded away. I was back again at the old homestead, w’ith mother and brother Ben j the sweet smell of violets and piney woods came to me with the -singing of birds and the pleasant shade flung by the elm trees over a mother’s window. I forgot for a moment that I had no home, no mother, that the dear face was hidden from my sight in the village churchyard, and that brother Ben was lying at the bottom of the sea. I had not heard that song since mother sung it as we three sat together in the gloam : ing long ago; but as the music ceased, I was back again with a heart all wrinkled and scarred, child no longer, but a poor lone working woman. I could not help it; I threw myself upon the floor of the hall where I was in a perfect abandon of grief. I took no note of time or place, remembering nothing but that I was entirely alone. I heard no one coming, and so was startled when I felt a hand upon my head and heard the words :

“Tut, tut! this will never do, child, you’ll be sick. Have you lost your canary or pet cat ? Tell an old man all your troubles.” I started up ashamed, that I, usually so dignified, should be caught in this way by any of the servants of the apartment house of which I had the charge; but looking at the speaker I saw a strange face—a face strong, kind and true, with piercing eyes which seemed to look into my soul. I said : “I beg pardon, sir, were you looking for a flat ?” “ A flat?” he answered, with a merry twinkle-in his eyes. “If I wanted that I found one without going any further when I saw a little, foolish girl lying flat on the floor, trying her best to inundate my friend Fleming’s house with tears.” As he was speaking I felt my face growing scarlet. I fancied he feared another outburst, so he said ; “ Excuse me, dear, can you tell me where I can find the janitress~who certainly is not a very faithful one or else she would show herself.”

In answer, I drew myself up to as tall a height as I could get, and said : “ Yes; sir, I am the janilress.” ,

i “ You ! Whew ! Do you think you are on the stage ? Come, now, no nonsense. I have no time for such tomfoolery ; I’m in a hurry.” He tried to look cross, but as he only succeeded in looking queer, I being in that nervous state that I must either laugh or cry, I burst into a fit of laughter. Then he was angry —muttered something about hysteria; told me to stop, or he would box my ears. This brought me to my senses, so I gently told him that I had charge ’of the house, and would give him any information he required. With a most, quizzical look, he asked :

“ Can you tell me if you have a sick gentleman here—a Mr. Janies Talbot, j am his medical attendant, Dr. Arthur Colville, at your service, madam. Can I trouble you for your name ? ” I said : “ Ruth Hopkins, sir.” “ Well, Miss Ruth Hopkins, as 1 shall probably visit this house every day for some time, and as I know my nervous system would suffer if I were obliged to witness to-day’s scenes often, therefore to prevent a repetition, I will give you a prescription, which you will have made up, and then swallow it down. If you do not I will complain to Mr. Fleming, who is one of my best friends.”

I took the paper without making any answer. I was afraid to do anything else. As we were going upstairs to Mr. Talbot’s apartments, the doctor said :

“ In a few days, >.hen -you are comparatively recovered from this attack, I wish to hear how it is that such a midget as you should hold such a'position.” He then said, “Good morning,” and with a most courtly bow went into the patient’s room. I went slowly down the stairs to my own room. Upon reaching it I took myself severely to task for daring to give way to such emotion. What right had I, a servant, to enjoy the luxury of feeling ?—unfitting myself for my duties. “ Let the dead past bury its dead ” had been, and must be again, tjjg law of my life, for it is such a tembfe-, thing to stand amid the wreck of life’s treasures, feeling they are gone from ns for ever, and to be obliged to realise that henceforth a gulf lies betw r een us and what made our life’s life. I felt there must be no more looking back for me. The first thing to be done was to see Dr.' Colville before he left the house, and to try to do away with impression I had unfortunately given him of my unfitness for my present position. I watched for him, and at he was leaving I said : '

“ Dv. Colville, I wish to tell you that, though I am small, and, perhaps, do not look as old as I am, I am not a child.. lam twenty-eight years old—long, long past girlhood. Mr.,Fleming has employed me for more than a year, and to-day is the first time -I have forgotten myself. Do not, I beg you, tell him of my foolish conduct, for he might be displeased and discharge me ; then what would I do ? I have no home but this, and have not one friend in the city. I can assure you, that ” I had spoken thus far very rapidly, giving the doctor no time to answer. I had not even looked at him, when I was interrupted by a hand being put over my mcuth, and the word “ stop” thundered in my ear. “ What do you take me for? one of your own sex? a gossiping old woman ? Do you think I have nothing to do? that I have time to talk of such nonsense as the sayings and doings of my friend’s unfaithful servant ?”

'TrofmmoreNhan I could bear in silence. - ' , I said ;l am not unfaithful, and I think you had better be a kind gossiping old woman, than a man who would speak in this wayto ahelpless won an.” “ Hoity toity! The child is roused ; rage is becoming to you. I didn’t think you were so pretty.” Then as he looked at me, his voice changed into a low kind tone, and he said: “ Girl, child, or woman —whatever youare—forgive me. I spoke hastily, buCydu touched upon a tender point! { Do not fear, I see you are fighting "the baitle of life with weapons to hands are unused; but bearopbratifelyA a little while, then all will be righT" After this I saw the doctor every [day! He merely said “ Good morning,’* ,as r . he passed me. Ido not ktiaw why 1 1" should have expected anything, mere, but as day after day Went on &nd Ytct | ceived no further notice fropt him disappointed. His last words’ to me had acted like a powerful tonic. l that a fresh impetus had been given me. Poor old Bridget/ ray • helper, would say: 'C “Oh ! Miss Ruthlwe will all the flesh off this house if we clean it any more.” - ~. •..>;! -,-.n unksl' But I was determined that Mr. Fleming’s friend should see nothing to find fault with iti the care taken, and that I was not a sentimental girl, but a hard-working woman. I liked rny life , - it was a busy one, and not monotonous. Tenants were coming and going. All had a little world of theiHOtjin! ' Inlof. many of these the was mitted. Some of these bright and ‘ * —love and hope rulingthere. I would go from them refreshed; •.Others were dark and dreary; but 1 found that'most- . ; of the clouds hadasikerTinmg, would leave with feelings that theJe ' were sorrow's even greater than and so would be- v | (To be continued,')

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18810129.2.14

Bibliographic details

THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 255, 29 January 1881

Word Count
1,485

THE CHIMNEY CORNER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 255, 29 January 1881

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