Read CHAPTER XII - IN THE SPRING-TIME of Little Pollie A Bunch of Violets , free online book, by Gertrude P. Dyer, on

Christmas had come and gone, even the New Year was becoming old; for three months had slipped by, and March winds were preparing to usher in April showers.

The London shopkeepers were exhibiting their spring goods, hoping that the few gleams of sun which had contrived to make themselves seen were indeed heralds of the coming “season,” which “season” was supposed to bring an increase of business with it, and, of course, as the homely adage says, “more grist to the mill.”

But as yet the streets were wet and sloppy, the bleak winds whistled round the corners, and London looked very dull and cheerless, even at the West End, where it is always brighter than in the busy City.

Far away in the country, it is true, the birds were twittering, joyfully busy in making their nests, flying hither and thither in search of materials to form their tiny homes.

There were sheep, too, in the meadows, cropping the fresh young grass, whilst the lambs skipped merrily about their staid mothers, as though rejoicing in the warmer weather; for the winter had been very severe, and many a night had they huddled together beside a hedge to keep themselves warm when the snow was falling thickly around.

The buds on the trees, especially the elms, were filling, so that after a few showers they would throw off their brown sheaths and put forth their delicate green leaves to court the breeze; and as to the hedges, they were already verdant. Yes, all creation was awaking, eager to proclaim His praise who hath said “While the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest, cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”

In the deep sheltered copse or hedgerows, primroses and violets were to be found nestling amidst green leaves and soft moss, filling the air with perfume. It always seems a pity to gather them where they bloom so sweetly and linger so long, yet gathered they were and sent up to London; some, indeed, were to be found in Sally Grimes’ basket as she stood outside the Bank, as she was standing on the day we first saw her. She has certainly improved since then-no longer ragged or untidy, but her hair is neatly plaited beneath a decent bonnet, and her shawl is securely fastened, instead of flying in the wind as it used to do. She is still very successful in “business,” although she does not now rush across the roads at peril of life or limb, nor does she thrust her flowers into the faces of the passers-by, frightening timid people by her roughness. No; all that is changed, and she has become a quiet, steady girl.

Truth to tell, she is beginning to dislike the life she leads-not the flowers; she loves them more than ever! and often looks after neat little servants she sometimes sees, wishing to become like one of them.

Patience, Sally! who knows what may be by and by?

But where is little Pollie, that she is not with her trusty friend?

Poor little Pollie lies sick and ill at home, so pale and thin one would scarcely recognise in that wan little face the Pollie of last spring-time!

A severe cold, followed by slow fever, has laid her low, and though all danger is over, she still continues so weak, too feeble to move; therefore her dear mother or Lizzie Stevens lifts her from her bed and lays her in an easy-chair which Mrs. Flanagan had borrowed, in which she reclines all the day long, very patient and uncomplaining though the poor little heart is often very sad as she watches her mother’s busy fingers, and feels that she cannot help to lift the burden as she used to do; then like an angel’s whisper comes the remembrance of that which cheered her the first day she started in business, “Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness;” and so the brown eyes close, shutting up the fast-gathering tears, and she trusts in her Heavenly Father with all the fervour of her pure childish heart, sure that the “Lord will provide.”

Then during the evening Nora comes in, and takes the little sufferer upon her lap, and sings to her so beautifully that the child gazes up into the girl’s lovely eyes, now so calm and hopeful, with the dreamy fancy that the angels must look like her. There is one song, an especial favourite with them both, called “Beautiful Blue Violets;” and very often, whilst listening to the sweet voice, Pollie falls asleep, soothed by the melody.

Indeed, there is no lack of kind friends who love the little girl. Mrs. Smith brings up all sorts of nice things to tempt the child’s appetite-sweet oranges and baked apples-even her brother, the butcher at whose shop Pollie’s first purchase of meat was made, sent a piece of mutton, “with his respects to Mrs. Turner, and it was just the right bit to make some broth for the little gal.”

The good doctor (the same who was present when crippled Jimmy died), though far from being a rich man, would accept no fee for attending her, so that if kindness and love could have called back her lost health, Pollie would soon have been well; but she is very, very ill, and day by day grows weaker and weaker. Her poor mother watches each change in the little face so precious to her, and when she lifts her in her arms feels how light the burden is becoming; she dreads to think that God will take her only treasure from her; her lips tremble as she says, “Thy will be done.” But the poor have no time for repining; every idle moment is money lost, and money must be earned to buy food for the dear ones who look to them for bread; so Mrs. Turner was compelled to work on, though her heart was sick with sadness, and many a time gladly would she have laid it aside to take her suffering child in her arms, and soothe the languid pain as none but a mother can. The little girl seemed to guess the thought those anxious eyes revealed, and when she saw her dear mother looking wistfully upon her, she would say, striving to be gay, and hide from those loving eyes all trace of suffering-

“I’m so cosy in this nice chair, mother darling, and Nora is coming in soon, you know!”

And of the many who love little Pollie, who so true as Sally Grimes? Every morning before setting off for the City she comes, anxiously asking, “How’s Pollie?” and on her return, her first care is to inquire for her little sick friend, bringing with her a few flowers, if she has any left in the basket, or some other trifle, precious, though, to the grateful recipient, whose white lips smile gratefully at the kind Sally for thus thinking of her.

“Ay, but I’m lonesome without you, Pollie,” says the girl, as she kisses the pale cheeks of the child; “and glad I’ll be when you gets about again, the place don’t seem the same without you; why, even that big peeler with the whiskers, who is a’most allers near the Bank, he says to-day ‘How’s the little gal?’ that he did.”

One evening Sally came, rushing in quite breathless with excitement, startling Mrs. Turner and waking up Pollie, who was dozing in Nora’s arms.

“Good news, good news,” she cried out; “luck’s come at last, hurray! there’s such a lovely lady coming to see you, Pollie.”

“To see Pollie?” asked the widow in surprise; “who is she?”

“I don’t know,” was the reply, “but she’s coming; she told me so, and soon too.”

“Who can it be?” they all questioned of each other, pausing in their work to look at the excited girl.

“I’ll tell you all about it,” exclaimed Sally, who felt herself to be of some importance as the bearer of such wonderful news; “only just let me get my breath a bit.”

“Well,” she continued, when sufficiently recovered to proceed with her story, but which, like all narrators of startling intelligence, she seemed to wish to spin out, so as to excite the curiosity of her hearers to the utmost; “well, I was standing at the top of Threadneedle Street, with my back to the Mansion House, looking to see if any customers were coming from Moorgate Street way, when some one touched me on my shoulder. I turned sharp round, as I thought maybe it was a gent wanting a bunch of flowers for his coat. But instead of a gent it was, oh, such a pretty lady! Not a young lady; p’raps as old as you, Mrs. Turner, p’raps older. She was dressed all in black, with, oh my! such crape, and jet beads; and though she smiled when she spoke, yet she seemed sad-like.”

“Are you the little girl I saw here about a year ago?” says she.

“May be I am, marm,” says I; “cos I’m pretty well allers here, leastway in the mornings.”

She looked at me a bit, and then she says-

“’I should not have thought to find you such a big girl in so short a time. Do you remember me? I bought some violets, and you told me your name, and where you lived; indeed I should have come to see you long ago as I promised, but was obliged to go abroad suddenly with my own little girl.’

“And then I thought she was going to cry, she looked so sad,” added Sally, “and she said” -

“‘But God took her home.’”

“Poor dear lady!” was the exclamation of Sally’s attentive listeners.

“Even the rich have troubles also,” said Mrs. Turner with a pitying sigh.

“Wait a bit, I ’aint told you all yet,” cried the girl; “well, I just then thought of what Pollie told us about the lady who gave her a shilling the very first day she went with me selling violets. So I says-

“It warn’t me, marm, you saw that day; it was little Pollie!”

“‘Yes, that was the name,’ says she; ‘and where is little Pollie?’

“With that I up and told her as how Pollie wasn’t well, and so she says, ’I will come to see her directly I have finished my business in the City.’ Oh, Lor’!” cried Sally, suddenly pausing in her story, “here she be, I’m sure, for there’s some one coming up the stairs with Mrs. Flanagan, some one who don’t wear big heavy boots too; can’t you hear?”

Sally was right; for the kindly face of their neighbour appeared in the doorway, ushering in “the beautiful lady.”

“And so this is little Pollie,” the sweet voice said, as, after speaking cheerfully to the widow and the others who were in the room, she stood beside the sick child. “Well, Pollie, I have come to see you at last, and in return for the beautiful violets you gave me a year ago, I will, with our merciful Father’s blessing us, put some roses on your white cheeks.”

My story is told!

In a pretty lodge close to the gates of a magnificent park live Pollie and her dear long-suffering mother, but now as happy as it is possible for mortals to be. The widow continues her needlework, not as formerly, “to keep the wolf from the door,” but merely for their beloved lady, or what is required for the house. Pollie, whose cheeks are now truly rosy, goes every day to school, and when at home helps her mother, so that in time she will become quite a useful girl to their kind and generous benefactress.

But who are those two neat young girls who are coming down the path towards the lodge, looking so bright and cheerful? Surely one is Lizzie Stevens, and the other Sally Grimes? Yes, indeed, and the housekeeper says she “never had two better servants, so willing and steady,” than our two young friends. So Sally’s ambition is realised; she is a servant, and a good one too, for trusty Sally never did anything by halves.

And Mrs. Flanagan?

If you will walk across the meadow by that narrow raised path, you will see a cosy cottage adjoining the dairy. There is Mrs. Flanagan, with sleeves tucked up above her elbows, busily making butter; it reminds her of the years long ago, when she used to do the dairy-work at the farm, and had never known a care. But she is happy even now, for outside the window is Nora, cheerful and contented, feeding the poultry, who gather round her, clucking noisily, while some white pigeons have flown down from the dove-cot, and one has alighted on her shoulder, and Nora’s merry laugh is as music to the mother’s ear.

There is some one scouring milk-pans in the yard, but whose features are almost hidden by a large black bonnet; who is it? The face turns towards us, and we see Sally Grimes’ mother!

So we leave all our old friends, peaceful and happy, doing their duty faithfully to the noble lady, who, though surrounded by all the world holds dear-riches-yet had sympathy for the poor ones of the earth, and pity for their sorrows.

She had resided many years abroad, but on returning to England and re-forming her establishment, had chosen these honest hard-working friends of ours to serve her. She learned from others how they had striven to live, and how they had each endeavoured to do their Heavenly Master’s work as He had appointed; patient under privations, and tender to others, doing as they would be done by.

And thus sunshine had come to brighten the hitherto dreary paths of their struggling lives, though even in their darkest hours our humble friends had never forgotten that

“Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.”

And how gratefully did they now lift up their hearts to Him who “careth for us!” And when Mrs. Flanagan and Mrs. Grimes met at Mrs. Turner’s, as they very often did when their work was done, they would contrast their present happy lot with those sad days of the past.

“And yet,” as Mrs. Turner once said, “had it not been for our troubles we should never have known each other, for it was those very sorrows that knit us together.”

“Ay, ay,” interrupted Mrs. Grimes, “for your Pollie somehow made my gal hate the streets, else she might a run there till now, and never a been the rale good scholar she be.”

“Ah, Pollie be a comfort to you,” observed the other old friend; “and how she do grow, to be sure! Well, well, bless her heart, she won’t have to rough it, my dear-leastways I hope not,-nor be led to go wrong like my poor Nora; still she’ll have her sorrows, like the rest on us.”

Yes, that was true; she would have her share of the trials that fall to the lot of all, and so would trusty Sally; but happily they knew where to take their cares, and He who had led them to this peaceful home would be with them still. And thus we leave them-living their lives in peaceful content, grateful for the memories given, and trusting in Him always.

And all this happiness had been brought about by-a simple Bunch of Violets!