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regardless of appearances as to have quill pens stuck behind their ears or in their mouths ; even those you might meet later in the day, up westward in the park, looking very smart indeed (in fact the children recognized some they had seen there). Most of the men seemed extremely busy, but there were some whose talk savoured strongly of horsefilesh and“ liquors,” which did not strike the maidens as being quite the thing in that strictly commercial locality. Almost all the merchants had an apparently incurable habit of keeping their hands in their pockets, or thrust behind their coat tails. whilst engaged in conversation. Hats too were worn in most eccentric fashion, and at all conceivable angles, sometimes sideways, or tilted over the nose, or hanging on with difficulty at the back of the heads of the wearers. There was very little cart or cab traffic up or down that lane, so the merchants had it much to themselves, the groups of buyers and sellers not being confined to the pavement but standing about all over the road as well. Occasionally a “coster," with a barrowload of dripping fish in boxes, fresh from Billingsgate, charged up and temporarily scattered the groups, but this was an exception at that time of the day.
It was a very instructive study this, and they contemplated it long and earnestly. Great-heart told
his charges that many thousands of households depended for their existence and well-being on the energy of the people they saw ; many anxious parents for the wherewithal to live on the integrity and industry of the hundreds of clerks, grown-up and mere boys, hurrying about on all sides, or cooped up in the various offices above and around them.
Then it was decided they had seen enough for that day; it would not do to tire the little people with too much. Although it had been impossible to show them more than the merest atom of life, Great-heart hoped they had learnt something from this visit to the city to be of service in after years, to be turned to right account in that fairy future which lay before them. The children were convinced they had.
So they hailed another cab, not nearly so smart an one this time, and drove homewards by a different route, for a long way by the side of the great river, astir too with its more silent traffic. Then they turned up northward and westward and reached Lowther Street safely about five o'clock, in time for a refreshing nap before teatime.
That evening Great-heart, ere he carried the children to their beds upstairs, addressed them thus :
"I want you in thinking over those scenes you have gazed upon, and which it is my intention to unfold before you, to try, as I have asked you before, to
think not only of what you actually see, but of what you do not, if you can understand me; not merely of those you meet face to face in the streets, but those hidden from your view by the house fronts ; of those many toilers who work, work, work by day and by night, throughout all seasons of the year, with little of change, relaxation, or pleasure. Much should I have liked you to see some of these good folk, either trudging into their different duties or returning from them, but I fear we cannot manage it, by reason of the unfitness of the hours for you. Both sexes, darlings. In most instances it is sadder to gaze on the forms and faces of the female toilers, for they are in feeling certainly more susceptible to harshness and ill usage. Not in bravery or patient suffering under trial, believe me; there they beat us men most surely. It is sorrowful to see the weaker sex bearing much that should fall to the lot of the stronger. The sphere of action for woman is home, to lend her sweet arts to household duties, to gladden the heart of him returning thereto worn and tired, seeking for comfort and rest. Her mission to work, truly ; but not among rough vulgar scenes, which she must do if she seek that work abroad with strangers. Do not mistake me; I do not say it is other than a necessity as it is, yet I tell you that does not alter the sadness of its existence in the world. Many a time have I sallied forth to watch the returning tide of womanhood from shop or warehouse through the summer twilight or cold, cheerless darkness of the winter eve, to note the pale, pinched faces of those, bred no doubt in the pure country air, now eking out their scanty livings here in this great city; not unfrequently the victims of a parent's improvidence or rashness, fallen thus as a sad burthen on the child. Home, if some poor attic can be called by so sweet a name, they trudge, passing many a scene not fit for them to gaze at, to endure many an insult from which their pure minds recoil, exposed to every temptation to ill, yet strong and brave to resist throughout them all. Those are the heroines of this life, little ones. Remember all these things I am telling you. And now, good night.”
The sisters, sinking slowly off to their quiet repose, were thoughtful. The lessons taught were beginning to take root in right earnest within them.
THE CHILDREN GO DOWN TO THE SEA. THE time sped swiftly by; to the children it
seemed to fly. Each day brought with it some new sight for then, something more to train and store up in their busy brains, to turn to good account in the future.
The man gave himself up entirely to his little visitors, to kindly lectures in his home when the weather prevented their walks abroad, striving with a will and all tenderness, that their sojourn might prove of lasting value to them and others later on.
What lots of places they visited, to be sure, in all parts of that huge city! What thousands of people they saw! how they were stared at and admired !
Great-heart was faithful to his promise. He took them to that splendid cathedral, the glimpse at which had so impressed them. They spent a whole afternoon there, indeed, and were much struck with its splendour within and without. They inspected that noble monument to England's greatest warrior,